Multi-functional SERS substrate: collection, separation, and identification of airborne chemical powders on a single device. Academic Article uri icon


  • Due to its extreme sensitivity and fingerprint specificity, surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is a powerful tool for substance identification. Developments in portable low-cost SERS substrates and handheld Raman spectrometers enable SERS analysis at sample origin, with great potential benefit to field-work applications in numerous disciplines. This study reports a procedure which incorporates sample collection, isolation, and SERS identification of airborne solids on a single inexpensive substrate. This procedure, vacuum filtration-paper chromatography-SERS (VF-PC-SERS), utilizes a porous filter paper decorated with plasmonic nanoparticles which we call nanopaper. The porous fiber structure facilitates both the vacuum filter powder capture and the isolation of components by paper chromatography, while the nanoplasmonic coating enhances Raman signal. One potentially high-impact application of VF-PC-SERS is field analysis of hazardous or illicit materials. This study demonstrates a proof-of-concept for VF-PC-SERS using powdered rhodamine 6G (R6G) dispersed in air, resulting in 100% detection accuracy (true positive rate) at R6G levels as low as 0.6 mg/m3. Analysis of R6G contaminated with topsoil or lactose resulted in specific identification of R6G in powder mixtures containing as little as 0.1 wt. % R6G. This study demonstrates the feasibility of VF-PC-SERS as a safer procedure to identify hazardous substances at the point of sample origin.

published proceedings

  • Sens Actuators B Chem

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Weatherston, J. D., Yuan, S., Mashuga, C. V., & Wu, H.

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Weatherston, Joshua D||Yuan, Shuai||Mashuga, Chad V||Wu, Hung-Jen

publication date

  • January 2019