We synthesized gold (Au) nano-urchins (AuNUs) and deposited these AuNUs on indium tin oxide (ITO) glass. We compared the influence of the resistance of ITO glass and the deposition density of NUs on refractive index sensitivity (RIS) of these ITO substrates, and found that ITO glass with resistance of 8-12 Ω/sq and substrates with many AuNU dimers gave the highest RIS which was as high as 455 nm/RIU (refractive index unit), which is the highest on substrate as we known. Compared with AuNUs deposited on quartz glass, the extinction peak intensity and RIS were enhanced on ITO glass. The RIS enhancement is mainly attributed to the considerably enhanced electric field at the tips of AuNUs, electrical hot spots generated by AuNU aggregates (such as dimers), and the repulsive forces decrease in each AuNU by the ITO layer. It is thought that further shape, distribution, and size change of AuNUs and dimers on ITO glass will greatly affect the RIS and spectral characteristics. AuNU substrate is then proposed for heparin detection through Au etching. The results showed that heparin detection was realized in a linear range of 0.05 to 5 μg/mL with a detection limit of 8 ng/mL, which has potential to be applied in the practical environment.
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