Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) imaging is a powerful technique for studying biological systems both in vitro and in vivo. In SERS, Raman scattering from molecules located near the surface of either gold or silver nanoparticles is enhanced by 105–108. This review describes the basic enhancement mechanism of SERS and provides experimental details that must be considered when performing a SERS imaging experiment with a focus on cellular imaging. Specific examples highlighting the power of SERS for measuring chemical distributions in cells, signal multiplexing, and following dynamic motion of SERS probes in vivo are provided. Potential future directions in which SERS is combined with super-resolution imaging are also described. WIREs Nanomed Nanobiotechnol 2013, 5:180–189. doi: 10.1002/wnan.1208
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