Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) of 4-mercaptopyridine (4-mpy) adsorbed on HNO3 etched silver foil, chemically deposited silver films (silver mirror) and silver colloids were measured. The SERS study has revealed that 4-mpy was adsorbed onto the three kinds of silver surfaces by a sulfur-silver bond with the plane of pyridine ring being normal to the silver substrates. The structure of 4-mpy adsorbed on the silver surfaces depends largely on the pH values of environment. When the pH values of the environment are changed, the structure of 4-mpy adsorbed on silver surfaces can easily be altered through a protonation or deprotonation reaction occurring on the N atom of the pyridine ring, and the modified structure shows unique characters on the SERS spectrum. Owing to the remarkable enhancement ability of SERS technique and characteristic spectrum of different species, a monolayer of 4-mpy assembled on a silver mirror holds potential as a H+ sensor for highly sensitive detection of the proton concentration in an aqueous solution.
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