We have developed a novel class of gold multilayer, surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) substrates that are capable of enhancing SERS signals by 15.3-fold over conventional gold film over nanostructure (GFON) SERS substrates, making them comparable in sensitivity to optimized silver film over nanostructure (SFON) substrates, while providing the long-term stability obtained from gold. They are fabricated by depositing 10 Å thick silver oxide islands on conventional GFON substrates, followed by deposition of a second continuous gold layer. The silver oxide layer acts as a dielectric spacer between the two continuous gold films and produces significantly enhanced SERS signals, as compared to optimized single layer substrates of the same geometry or comparable substrates prepared by deposition of silver islands that are not oxidized. In addition to the enhanced sensitivity of these multilayer substrates, they also exhibit long SERS active shelf-lives (i.e., months), with no measurable degradation in SERS enhancement, and relative standard deviations in SERS enhancement of less than 5.2% across the substrate's surface.

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