Two clear windows in the near-infrared (NIR) spectrum are of considerable current interest for in vivo molecular imaging and spectroscopic detection. The main rationale is that near-infrared light can penetrate biological tissues such as skin and blood more efficiently than visible light because these tissues scatter and absorb less light at longer wavelengths. The first clear window, defined as light wavelengths between 650 nm and 950 nm, has been shown to be far superior for in vivo and intraoperative optical imaging than visible light. The second clear window, operating in the wavelength range of 1000–1700 nm, has been reported to further improve detection sensitivity, spatial resolution, and tissue penetration because tissue photon scattering and background interference are further reduced at longer wavelengths. Here we discuss recent advances in developing biocompatible plasmonic nanoparticles for in vivo and intraoperative surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) in both the first and second NIR windows. In particular, a new class of ‘broad-band’ plasmonic nanostructures is well suited for surface Raman enhancement across a broad range of wavelengths allowing a direct comparison of detection sensitivity and tissue penetration between the two NIR window. Also, optimized and encoded SERS nanoparticles are generally nontoxic and are much brighter than near-infrared quantum dots (QDs), raising new possibilities for ultrasensitive detection of microscopic tumors and image-guided precision surgery.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry