SERS detection and comprehensive study of p-nitrophenol: towards pesticide sensing†
Pesticide sensing is an important object of study due to its increasing use worldwide. Herein, we report a SERS study of 4-nitrophenol (PNP), which is product of neutralization processes of various pesticides such as Paraoxon, and can be used as a target molecule for monitoring. PNP is also widely used in the chemical industry and due to its high toxicity is considered a concerning pollutant. The sensing was carried out with a reduced graphene oxide nanocomposite functionalized with cysteamine and Ag nanoparticles (rGOSHAg), and compared with raw reduced graphene oxide and a commercial SERS substrates (SERStrate™). A mechanistic evaluation was also carried out, focused in the degradation of PNP caused by the different exciting laser lines, evidencing the PNP dimerization in substrates containing Ag NPs (under 532 nm laser), which has important outcomes for sensing purposes. The nanocomposite rGOSHAg presented the highest sensitivity towards PNP, detecting concentrations as low as 10−6 mol L−1 and with a high potential for field applications and real-time measurements of molecules commonly present in pesticides and industrial contaminants.