Understanding the changes that occur when dyes are absorbed onto paper is crucial for the design of new inkjet dyes. This problem is particularly difficult for black dyes that have complex chromophores, and as a result, spectroscopic information on electronic and structural changes can be of importance. Surface-enhanced resonance Raman scattering (SERRS) and electronic structure calculations were used to probe <i>in situ</i> changes in the chromophore in black di-azo dyes printed onto paper. The data indicate that the low-energy chromophore is due mainly to the hydrazone group and the high-energy chromophore to both the azo and hydrazone groups. A comparison of SERRS from the dyes adsorbed onto silver particles in suspension and from the dyes on paper demonstrated a broadening of the chromophore into the red for both dyes and evidence of a structural change in one dye.
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