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Detection and analysis of cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine (RDX) in environmental samples by surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy



Techniques for rapid and sensitive detection of energetics such as cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine (RDX) are needed both for environmental and security screening applications. Here we report the use of surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) spectroscopy to detect traces of RDX with good sensitivity and reproducibility. Using gold (Au) nanoparticles (∼90–100 nm in diameter) as SERS substrates, RDX was detectable at concentrations as low as 0.15 mg/l in a contaminated groundwater sample. This detection limit is about two orders of magnitude lower than those reported previously using SERS techniques. A surface enhancement factor of ∼6 × 104 was obtained. This research further demonstrates the potential for using SERS as a rapid, in situ field screening tool for energetics detection when coupled with a portable Raman spectrometer. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.