Metallic nanoparticles can be used as basic materials for a wide variety of purposes including building blocks for nanoassemblies, substrates for enhanced spectroscopies such as fluorescence and Raman and as labels for biomolecules. In the present paper, we report how silver and gold nanoparticles can be functionalized with specific biomolecular probes to interact in a specific manner with a target molecule to provide a change in the properties of the nanoparticles which can be measured to indicate the molecular recognition event. Examples of this approach include DNA hybridization to switch on SERRS (surface-enhanced resonance Raman scattering) when a specific target sequence is present, the use of nanoparticles for in vivo SERRS imaging and the use of nanoparticles functionalized with antibodies to provide a new type of immunoassay. These examples indicate how nanoparticles can be used to provide highly sensitive and informative data from a variety of biological systems when used in combination with SERRS.

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