We present experimental results of the time-dependent Raman signal response of fluoranthene adsorbed on a naturally grown Ag nanoparticle ensemble, which serves as surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) substrate. In addition, SERS characteristics such as the concentration-dependent calibration curves and the limit of detection (LOD) for fluoranthene in distilled water will be shown. The SERS substrate was prepared by Volmer–Weber growth under ultrahigh vacuum condition and exhibits a plasmon resonance wavelength at 491 nm. For the measurement of SERS signal response and SERS/shifted excitation Raman difference spectroscopy spectra of fluoranthene in water, experimental Raman setup containing a microsystem light source with two emission wavelengths (487.61 nm and 487.91 nm) was used. We experimentally demonstrate that the maximum SERS intensity is achieved 9 min after changing the analyte concentration from 0 nmol/l to 600 nmol/l. This response time is explained by a time-dependent adsorption of the probe molecules onto the nanoparticles.
The LOD for fluoranthene in water was evaluated applying shifted excitation Raman difference spectroscopy (SERDS) at different molecule concentrations. For SERDS, two emission wavelengths of a prototype microsystem light source have been used for Raman excitation. The experimental results reveal that the LOD for the probe molecules is very low. Experimentally, we have detected a fluoranthene concentration of only 4 nmol/l, which is very close to our estimated LOD of 2 nmol/l. Thus, the presented Raman setup, with a SERS substrate, whose plasmon resonance coincides with the excitation wavelength for SERS measurements, is well suited for in-situ trace detection of pollutant chemicals in water. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.