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Sensors 2011, 11(3), 2700-2714; doi:10.3390/s110302700
Article

A Nanosensor for TNT Detection Based on Molecularly Imprinted Polymers and Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering

* ,
 and
United States Army Research Laboratory, RDRL-SEE-O, 2800 Powder Mill Road, Adelphi, MD 20783, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 January 2011 / Revised: 8 February 2011 / Accepted: 22 February 2011 / Published: 1 March 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10 Years Sensors - A Decade of Publishing)
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Abstract

We report on a new sensor strategy that integrates molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) with surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). The sensor was developed to detect the explosive, 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT). Micron thick films of sol gel-derived xerogels were deposited on a SERS-active surface as the sensing layer. Xerogels were molecularly imprinted for TNT using non-covalent interactions with the polymer matrix. Binding of the TNT within the polymer matrix results in unique SERS bands, which allow for detection and identification of the molecule in the MIP. This MIP-SERS sensor exhibits an apparent dissociation constant of (2.3 ± 0.3) × 10−5 M for TNT and a 3 µM detection limit. The response to TNT is reversible and the sensor is stable for at least 6 months. Key challenges, including developing a MIP formulation that is stable and integrated with the SERS substrate, and ensuring the MIP does not mask the spectral features of the target analyte through SERS polymer background, were successfully met. The results also suggest the MIP-SERS protocol can be extended to other target analytes of interest.
Keywords: molecular imprinting; surface enhanced Raman scattering; sensor; explosives detection molecular imprinting; surface enhanced Raman scattering; sensor; explosives detection
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Holthoff, E.L.; Stratis-Cullum, D.N.; Hankus, M.E. A Nanosensor for TNT Detection Based on Molecularly Imprinted Polymers and Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering. Sensors 2011, 11, 2700-2714.

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