Abstract

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

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