Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)

Rapid detection of polychlorinated biphenyls at trace levels in real environmental samples by surface-enhanced Raman scattering.

PMID 22346675


Detection of trace levels of persistent pollutants in the environment is difficult but significant. Organic pollutant homologues, due to their similar physical and chemical properties, are even more difficult to distinguish, especially in trace amounts. We report here a simple method to detect polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in soil and distilled spirit samples by the surface-enhanced Raman scattering technique using Ag nanorod arrays as substrates. By this method, polychlorinated biphenyls can be detected to a concentration of 5 μg/g in dry soil samples within 1 minute. Furthermore, based on simulation and understanding of the Raman characteristics of PCBs, we recognized homologues of tetrachlorobiphenyl by using the surface-enhance Raman scattering method even in trace amounts in acetone solutions, and their characteristic Raman peaks still can be distinguished at a concentration of 10(-6) mol/L. This study provides a fast, simple and sensitive method for the detection and recognition of organic pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls.