Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

In 2017 we celebrated five years of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science

In the Black
04 July 2018

In the Black

Three million times smaller than an expectant crowd, these tiny needles of black silicon are nevertheless waiting for something. Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is a common technique used to spot harmful substances, looking for tell-tale chemical fingerprints in potentially carcinogenic or even explosive samples. But this is only possible after the mystery molecules have attached to a microscopic platform, or substrate. There’s a problem though, many substrates used in SERS react in some way with the chemicals they grab on to, clouding accurate analysis. Black silicon is inert – it doesn’t react with chemical samples, making it ideal as a substrate. Pictured here using scanning electron microscopy, its crystalline prongs are just waiting to grab onto something dangerous.

Written by John Ankers

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More