A highly sensitive substrate for surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is formed by arrays of gold-coated metallic carbon nanotubes having a nanoinsert of high-k dielectric (hafnia) as an energy coupling barrier. Repeated femtomolar detection of 1,2 bis-(4-pyridyl)-ethylene in solution demonstrates the critical contribution of this plasmonic energy coupling barrier to the enhanced chemical sensitivity.
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