The detection of trace amounts of pesticides is essential for the quality control of waters, particularly with their inevitable increasing use with the growing demand for food. In this study, we report on the detection of atrazine, a highly toxic herbicide, down to 5 × 10−12 M, which is sufficient to monitor the quality of drinking water even according to the most stringent international regulations. Such detection was performed with surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) in atrazine incorporated into silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) colloids, with the SERS spectra being treated with Sammon’s mapping, an information visualization technique. In addition to providing a fingerprint of the atrazine molecules, SERS is advantageous in comparison with impedance spectroscopy and cyclic voltammetry applied to a sensor array of units made with layer-by-layer (LbL) films containing AgNPs and AuNPs. The combined use of SERS and information visualization methods is promising for monitoring water quality with regard to other pesticides, which may even approach single molecule detection.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.