Application of Plasma-Printed Paper-Based SERS Substrate for Cocaine Detection.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland), 2021, 21, (3), pp. 810-810
Issue Date:
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Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) technology is an attractive method for the prompt and accurate on-site screening of illicit drugs. As portable Raman systems are available for on-site screening, the readiness of SERS technology for sensing applications is predominantly dependent on the accuracy, stability and cost-effectiveness of the SERS strip. An atmospheric-pressure plasma-assisted chemical deposition process that can deposit an even distribution of nanogold particles in a one-step process has been developed. The process was used to print a nanogold film on a paper-based substrate using a HAuCl4 solution precursor. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) analysis demonstrates that the gold has been fully reduced and that subsequent plasma post-treatment decreases the carbon content of the film. Results for cocaine detection using this substrate were compared with two commercial SERS substrates, one based on nanogold on paper and the currently available best commercial SERS substrate based on an Ag pillar structure. A larger number of bands associated with cocaine was detected using the plasma-printed substrate than the commercial substrates across a range of cocaine concentrations from 1 to 5000 ng/mL. A detection limit as low as 1 ng/mL cocaine with high spatial uniformity was demonstrated with the plasma-printed substrate. It is shown that the plasma-printed substrate can be produced at a much lower cost than the price of the commercial substrate.
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