Detecting forensic substances using commercially available SERS substrates and handheld Raman spectrometers

Aron Hakonen*, Kaiyu Wu, Michael Stenbæk Schmidt, Per Ola Andersson, Anja Boisen, Tomas Rindzevicius

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Ultra-sensitive in-field measurements of most forensic substances still today remain a challenge for first responders and forensic investigators. Handheld Raman spectroscopy equipment is getting more and more routinely used in the field for evidence collection, however, restricted to measurements of pure or high concentration samples. Here, surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) sensing of common forensic substances with commercially available SERS substrates and handheld spectrometers, have been investigated. 3D Finite Element Method (FEM) and Density Functional Theory (DFT) simulations were used to interpret the high SERS enhancement of the Ag nanopillar substrate and the detection of the substances, respectively. The forensic generality and high performance of the analytical method were demonstrated by explicit detection of close to unprecedented amounts, down to femtograms, of Cyclosarin, RDX, Amphetamine and Picric acid. Implications are ultra-sensitive in-field SERS detection of these substances with commercial equipment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-652
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • SERS
  • Raman
  • Forensic detection
  • Chemical warfare agents
  • Explosives
  • Narcotics

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