Raman spectroscopy is a powerful analytical method that allows deposited and/or immobilized cells to be evaluated without complex sample preparation or labeling. However, a main limitation of Raman spectroscopy in cell analysis is the extremely weak Raman intensity that results in low signal to noise ratios. Therefore, it is important to seize any opportunity that increases the intensity of the Raman signal and to understand whether and how the signal enhancement changes with respect to the substrate used. Our experimental results show clear differences in the spectroscopic response from cells on different surfaces. This result is partly due to the difference in spatial distribution of electric field at the substrate/cell interface as shown by numerical simulations. We found that the substrate also changes the spatial location of maximum field enhancement around the cells. Moreover, beyond conventional flat surfaces, we introduce an efficient nanostructured silver substrate that largely enhances the Raman signal intensity from a single yeast cell. This work contributes to the field of vibrational spectroscopy analysis by providing a fresh look at the significance of the substrate for Raman investigations in cell research.
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