This article presents a unique 3D biocompatible Aluminum-based quantum structure (QS) for in vitro cancer detection using Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS). The Al-based QSs fabricated using ultrashort pulsed laser are of two distinct surface characters, wrinkled and smooth spherical. The limit of detection for chemical sensing of Crystal Violet and Rhodamine 6G by the Al-QS was driven up to single molecule sensing (femtomolar concentration). Biological sensing of cysteine, a disease biomarker and carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), a cancer biomarker was also tested by the Al-QS. The ability of in vitro cell detection using Al-QS was analyzed with three cell lines, mammalian fibroblast and pancreatic and lung cancer cells. The Al-QS were up taken by the cells through label-free self-internalization and were sensed by SERS. Further assay was performed to differentiate cancerous and non-cancerous cells by measuring lipid and protein peak intensity within the cells. The result of this research indicated that SERS based Al-QS could be a suitable candidate for the early diagnosis of cancer.
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