A homogeneous surface-enhanced Raman scattering platform for ultra-trace detection of trinitrotoluene in the environment†
A facile and sensitive surface-enhanced Raman scattering substrate was prepared by controlled potentiostatic deposition of a closely packed single layer of gold nanostructures (AuNS) over a flat gold (pAu) platform. The nanometer scale inter-particle distance between the particles resulted in high population of ‘hot spots’ which enormously enhanced the scattered Raman photons. A renewed methodology was followed to precisely quantify the SERS substrate enhancement factor (SSEF) and it was estimated to be (2.2 ± 0.17) × 105. The reproducibility of the SERS signal acquired by the developed substrate was tested by establishing the relative standard deviation (RSD) of 150 repeated measurements from various locations on the substrate surface. A low RSD of 4.37 confirmed the homogeneity of the developed substrate. The sensitivity of pAu/AuNS was proven by determining 100 fM 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) comfortably. As a proof of concept on the potential of the new pAu/AuNS substrate in field analysis, TNT in soil and water matrices was selectively detected after forming a Meisenheimer complex with cysteamine.