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Anal Chem. 2016 Apr 19;88(8):4328-35. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.5b04487. Epub 2016 Apr 1.

Sensitive Detection of Polycyclic Aromatic Molecules: Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering via π-π Stacking.

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State Key Laboratory of Precision Spectroscopy, ‡Shanghai Key Laboratory of Regulatory Biology, School of Life Sciences, and §School of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, East China Normal University , Shanghai, 200062, China.


We report silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) with high stability, sensitivity, and no surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) background. The Ag NPs were synthesized via a one-step process with polysodium styrenesulfonate (PSSS) templates, and they could efficiently adsorb polycyclic aromatic molecules via π-π stacking. The adsorption mechanisms and applicability were systematically studied by experimental measurements and theoretical simulations. When the polycyclic aromatic analytes were adsorbed on the PSSS-templated Ag NPs, the vibrations of π-π stacking-bound moieties were attenuated, yet those of the other unbound aromatic moieties increased. Most importantly, when the analytes had more than two π-π stacking binding sites, the PSSS-templated Ag NPs could trap the analytes by focusing through the optical force induced or via the simultaneously formed analyte-Ag NPs aggregates. This afforded high SERS intensity and very low detection limits.

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