SILMECO is a spin-off of the Denmark Technology University (DTU) born in 2013 from the meeting between a group of researchers working in the nanotechnology field and two students from the Copenhagen Business School, looking for a case study. After a year, the new company already had a customer portfolio distributed in 25 countries.
SILMECO SERS substrates are used to detect minute quantities of chemicals, explosives, food adulterants or illicit drugs, and other products. Silmeco's SERS technology is key for molecular detection with extreme sensitivities
SERS is an occurrence of Raman signal amplification due to the creation of a resonance condition between the incident light and the response of the electrons present in a nano structured system of noble metals, such as gold or silver. The Raman signal originates from the interaction between light and atomic vibrations. When a monochromatic beam of light interacts with a molecule, it can set its atoms in motion, releasing some of its energy. The outgoing light changes its color imperceptibly, turning towards red. The color variation and its intensity are different for each molecule and constitute the Raman spectrum, a sort of molecular fingerprint. The intensity of this phenomenon is unfortunately very feeble and cannot be observed with the naked eye. The use of SERS substrates can increase their efficiency billions of times making the effect momentous and therefore usable for practical purposes.
SERS is an intrinsically nano technological phenomenon. The metal structures involved must have distances with a spatial control of very few nanometers. SILMECO uses an innovative strategy to make these systems. Nanometric columns covered in gold or silver are folded back on themselves using the water surface tension, trapping the molecules to be identified in nanometric pockets until obtaining an SERS signal amplification 600 times higher than that obtainable with other commercial SERS substrates.
SILMECO one year after its creation in 2013 already had customers in 25 countries. Following its birth, some historical leaders in the field of SERS substrates have ceased operations. Today SILMECO is one of the main players in a market worth 12 M $ and has an annual growth rate of 10%.