Mss Bharathi, Abdul Kalam, Chandu Byram, Syed Hamad and Venugopal Rao Soma
The development of recyclable surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) based sensors has been in huge demand for trace level explosives detection. A simple, hybrid Silicon (Si) nanotextured target-based SERS platform is fabricated through patterning micro square arrays (MSA) on Si using femtosecond (fs) laser ablation technique at different fluences. Using the hybrid target Si MSA substrate loaded/decorated with Ag-Au alloy NPs (obtained using femtosecond ablation in liquids) we demonstrate the trace level detection of organic nitro-explosives [picric acid (PA), 2,4-dinitrotoluene (DNT), and 1, 3, 5-trinitroperhydro-1, 3, 5-triazine (RDX)] and their mixtures. The microstructures/nanostructures of MSA fabricated at an input fluence of 9.55 J/cm2, and decorated with Ag-Au alloy NPs, exhibited exceptional SERS enhancement factors (EFs) up to ∼1010 for MB, ∼106 for PA, and ∼104 for RDX with the detection limits obtained being ∼5 pM, ∼36 nM, and ∼400 nM for MB, PA and RDX respectively. Furthermore, we demonstrate these SERS substrates possess good reproducibility (RSD values < 15%) and a superior performance compared to a commercial Ag substrate (SERSitive, Poland). Three binary mixtures, i.e. MB-PA, MB-DNT, PA-DNT at different concentrations, were also investigated using the same SERS substrate to test the efficacy. Further, the SERS spectra of dyes, explosives, and complex mixtures were utilized for discrimination/classification using principal component analysis.
Keywords: Surface-enhanced Raman scattering, Femtosecond laser ablation, Ag–Au alloy NPs, Methylene blue, Explosives detection