American Chemical Society
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Trinitrotoluene Explosive Lights up Ultrahigh Raman Scattering of Nonresonant Molecule on a Top-Closed Silver Nanotube Array

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journal contribution
posted on 2011-09-15, 00:00 authored by Haibo Zhou, Zhongping Zhang, Changlong Jiang, Guijian Guan, Kui Zhang, Qingsong Mei, Renyong Liu, Suhua Wang
The highest Raman enhancement factors are obtained in a double resonance: molecular electronic resonance and plasmon resonance with a “hot spot” in surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). However, for most molecules of interest the double resonance is not realized with the excitation frequencies normally used in Raman. The latter may limit the practical applications of SERS for trace analysis. Here, we report that Raman-inactive trinitrotoluene (TNT) lights up the ultrahigh Raman scattering of off-resonated p-aminobenzenethiol (PABT) through the formation of charge-transfer TNT-PABT complex on the top-closed flexible silver nanotube array. Raman hot spots can spontaneously form in a reversible way by the self-approaching of flexible nanotubes driven through the capillary force of solvent evaporation. Meanwhile, the PABT-TNT-PABT bridges between self-approaching silver nanotubes possibly form by the specific complexing and zwitterion interactions, and the resultant chromophores can absorb the visible light that matches with the incident laser and the localized surface plasmon of a silver nanotube array. The multiple spectral resonances lead to the huge enhancement of Raman signals of PABT molecules due to the presence of ultratrace TNT. The enhancement effect is repeatedly renewable by the reconstruction of molecular bridges and can selectively detect TNT with a limit of 1.5 × 10–17 M. The results in this report provide the simple and supersensitive approach to the detection of TNT explosives and the possibility of building a robust Raman-based assay platform.