Surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) has received increasing interest due to its capability of amplifying Raman signals by several orders of magnitude. As a non-invasive method, SERS has demonstrated its great applications in various fields, such as chemical sensing, environmental monitoring, food safety, anticounterfeiting labels, and medical diagnosis and treatment. Specifically, scientists are interested in studying the impact of ligand on the nanoparticle morphology, fabricating SERS nanoparticles with internal molecular standards, and exploring the influence of adsorption of multiple ligands on the nanoparticle aggregation and stability. In this REU project, we will work on design of novel plasmonic nanoparticles for various SERS applications. Our goal is to use organic ligands to modulate the nanoparticle morphology, to insert molecular standards in core-shell nanoparticles, and to fabricate SERS materials with multiple labels for anticounterfeiting applications. We will design new nanomaterials that will include a layer of desired molecular probes, which might serve as an internal standard in a SERS measurement. It is of particularly interest to figure out the impact of adsorbed ligands to the colloidal stability of the gold nanostars. This research project is built on our existing experience in tuning the morphology of gold nanostars for their applications in anticounterfeiting labels. It is anticipated that these plasmonic nanostars will play an essential role in new generation anticounterfeiting labels.