One approach to CBRNE detection is analytical monitoring with portable spectroscopy systems. Such a technique needs
to work in adverse environments, be amenable to use by field operators, and, given the sensitive nature of the target
materials, should have an extremely rapid response time with no false negatives. This research demonstrates that
surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) is capable of detecting ppb levels of CBRNE materials with high sensitivity
and no false positives. We present reproducible and selective detection using novel SERS structures that exhibit an
inherently uniform surface morphology, leading to rapid, reproducible manufacturing. Our work includes receiver-operator
characteristic (ROC) curves for the detection of both conventional and improvised nitro explosives at low
signal-to-noise ratios. We also present the detection of added CBRNE materials including chemical and biological
agents as well as nuclear enriching materials. Our expertise extends to instrumentation of portable, robust Raman
spectrographs that can be packaged with our sensors for a versatile security tool with applications extending from points
of entry to points of production, from people to objects and freight.
Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) is emerging as a versatile and powerful technique for the detection of various defense related hazardous materials. This work illustrates the level of sensitivity and reproducibility achieved using SERS substrates with structural features engineered at the nanometer scale. Nanostructured substrates show significant sensitivity toward a number of different analytes. Pinacolyl methyl phosphonic acid (PMPA), a nerve-agent degradation product, was detected in less than 30 seconds at 1ppb. Para-nitroaniline, an explosives simulant, was detected in the same amount of time at 10 ppm. Multiple tests showed signal reproduction of PMPA at 100 ppb below a 7% standard deviation. The substrates are small and lightweight. In addition, a portable SERS spectrometer, equipped with a fiber coupling for excitation and detection, can act as the sensor body. On a previous occasion, electrochemically roughened SERS substrates were loaded into this portable spectrometer and deployed in the field for the successful blind detection of buried, defused, landmines. Such a system accommodates multiple substrate technologies, allowing sensing in the vapor and liquid phase as well as via solids extraction, and is compatible with nanoscale substrates.
Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is a spectroscopic technique that enables trace detection of analytes of relevance using fieldable equipment. SERS uses the enhanced Raman signals observed when an analyte adsorbs to a roughened metal substrate, generally gold, silver, or copper. Coupled to a microscope, single molecule detection has been demonstrated. With a fieldable instrument, enhancements of 108 compared to unenhanced Raman spectroscopy are expected, allowing trace detection in the field. Proper development of the metal substrate will optimize the sensitivity and selectivity towards the analytes of interest. In this presentation, we will discuss applications under development at EIC Laboratories that are of importance to Homeland Defense. We will review the capabilities of SERS to detect buried explosives, explosives associated with nuclear weaponry and chemicals involved in the nuclear enrichment process. We will discuss the detection of chemical and biological warfare agents in the water supply in research performed under the Joint Service Agent Water Monitor. We will demonstrate the current detection limits, the reproducibility of the signal, and results collected using actual chemical warfare agents, and show how the results can be extended to vapor detection. We will also discuss the current state-of-the art for fieldable instrumentation. The emphasis on portability and speed will be stressed; SERS acquisitions are restricted to 30 s or less.
Protection of the drinking water supply from a terrorist attack is of critical importance. Since the water supply is vast, contamination prevention is difficult. Therefore, rapid detection of contaminants, whether a military chemical/biological threat, a hazardous chemical spill, naturally occurring toxins, or bacterial build-up is a priority. The development of rapid environmentally portable and stable monitors that allow continuous monitoring of the water supply is ideal. EIC Laboratories has been developing Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) to detect chemical agents, toxic industrial chemicals (TICs), viruses, cyanotoxins and bacterial agents. SERS is an ideal technique for the Joint Service Agent Water Monitor (JSAWM). SERS uses the enhanced Raman signals observed when an analyte adsorbs to a roughened metal substrate to enable trace detection. Proper development of the metal substrate will optimize the sensitivity and selectivity towards the analytes of interest.