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When the Signal Is Not from the Original Molecule To Be Detected: Chemical Transformation of para-Aminothiophenol on Ag during the SERS Measurement

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journal contribution
posted on 14.07.2010, 00:00 by Yi-Fan Huang, Hong-Ping Zhu, Guo-Kun Liu, De-Yin Wu, Bin Ren, Zhong-Qun Tian
Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) has long been considered as a noninvasive technique that can obtain the fingerprint vibrational information of surface species. We demonstrated in this paper that a laser with a power level considered to be low in the traditional SERS measurement can already lead to a significant surface reaction. para-Aminothiophenol, an important probe molecule in SERS, was found to be oxidized to form 4,4′-dimercaptoazobenzene (DMAB) on a roughened silver surface during the SERS measurement. The assumption was confirmed experimentally by surface mass spectroscopy and SERS as well as electrochemistry of the synthesized DMAB, which agrees well with theoretical calculations. A defocusing method was used to avoid the laser induced surface reaction and perform reliable SERS characterization and identification, which can effectively avoid erroneous interpretation of the distorted experimental result.