A challenge in the detection of explosives is the differentiation between explosives and contaminants. Synthetic musk-containing perfumes can cause false alarms, as these perfumes are nitroaromatic compounds, which can be mistaken for trinitro toluene (TNT) by some detectors. We present a detection principle based on surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). A stream of the airborne compounds is focused and resublimated on a cooled nanostructured gold surface. We recorded high-resolution SERS spectra of TNT, musk xylene, and musk ketone. The nitroaromatic compounds can be identified unambiguously by their SERS spectra. Even the dominant bands containing nitro-group scissoring and symmetric stretching modes are significantly shifted by the difference in molecular structure.
© 2010 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: May 6, 2010
Manuscript Accepted: June 19, 2010
Published: August 4, 2010
Hainer Wackerbarth, Lars Gundrum, Christian Salb, Konstantin Christou, and Wolfgang Viöl, "Challenge of false alarms in nitroaromatic explosive detection—a detection device based on surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy," Appl. Opt. 49, 4367-4371 (2010)