The use of surface-enhanced Raman scattering for detecting molecular evidence of life in rocks, sediments, and sedimentary deposits

Bowden, S.A., Wilson, R./ , Cooper, J.M. and Parnell, J. (2010) The use of surface-enhanced Raman scattering for detecting molecular evidence of life in rocks, sediments, and sedimentary deposits. Astrobiology, 10(6), pp. 629-641. (doi: 10.1089/ast.2009.0435)

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Raman spectroscopy is a versatile analytical technique capable of characterizing the composition of both inorganic and organic materials. Consequently, it is frequently suggested as a payload on many planetary landers. Only approximately 1 in every 10(6) photons are Raman scattered; therefore, the detection of trace quantities of an analyte dispersed in a sample matrix can be much harder to achieve. To overcome this, surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) and surface-enhanced resonance Raman scattering (SERRS) both provide greatly enhanced signals (enhancements between 10(5) and 10(9)) through the analyte's interaction with the locally generated surface plasmons, which occur at a "roughened'' or nanostructured metallic surface (e. g., Cu, Au, and Ag). Both SERS and SERRS may therefore provide a viable technique for trace analysis of samples. In this paper, we describe the development of SERS assays for analyzing trace amounts of compounds present in the solvent extracts of sedimentary deposits. These assays were used to detect biological pigments present in an Arctic microoasis (a small locale of elevated biological productivity) and its detrital regolith, characterize the pigmentation of microbial mats around hydrothermal springs, and detect fossil organic matter in hydrothermal deposits. These field study examples demonstrate that SERS technology is sufficiently mature to be applied to many astrobiological analog studies on Earth. Many current and proposed imaging systems intended for remote deployment already posses the instrumental components needed for SERS. The addition of wet chemistry sample processing facilities to these instruments could yield field-deployable analytical instruments with a broadened analytical window for detecting organic compounds with a biological or geological origin

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Arctic regolith Assays Biomarkers enhancement GAS CHROMATOGRAPHY Hydrothermal IN-SITU KEROGEN MARS-LIKE SOILS ORGANIC-MATTER PIGMENT PYROLYSIS SERS silver spectroscopy Surface-enhanced Raman system technologies technology trace analysis YELLOWSTONE-NATIONAL-PARK
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wilson, Dr Robert and Cooper, Professor Jonathan
Authors: Bowden, S.A., Wilson, R./, Cooper, J.M., and Parnell, J.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Electronics and Nanoscale Engineering
College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Biomedical Engineering
Journal Name:Astrobiology
Publisher:Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Publishers
ISSN (Online):1557-8070

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