Nanofibrillar cellulose/Au@Ag nanoparticle nanocomposite as a SERS substrate for detection of paraquat and thiram in lettuce


A nanocomposite based on nanofibrillar cellulose (NFC) coated with gold–silver (core-shell) nanoparticles (Au@Ag NPs) was developed as a novel surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) substrate. SERS performance of NFC/Au@Ag NP nanocomposite was tested by 4-mercaptobenzoic acid. The cellulose nanofibril network was a suitable platform that allowed Au@Ag NPs to be evenly distributed and stabilized over the substrate, providing more SERS hotspots for the measurement. Two pesticides, thiram and paraquat, were successfully detected either individually or as a mixture in lettuce by SERS coupled with the nanocomposite. Strong Raman scattering signals for both thiram and paraquat were obtained within a Raman shift range of 400–2000 cm−1 and a Raman intensity ~ 8 times higher than those acquired by NFC/Au NP nanocomposite. Characteristic peaks were clearly observable in all SERS spectra even at a low concentration of 10 μg/L of pesticides. Limit of detection values of 71 and 46 μg/L were obtained for thiram and paraquat, respectively. Satisfactory SERS performance, reproducibility, and sensitivity of NFC/Au@Ag NP nanocomposite validate its applicability for real-world analysis to monitor pesticides and other contaminants in complex food matrices within a short acquisition time.

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This research was financially supported by the Robert T. Marshall Scholarship, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (2016-67021-24994 and 2018-67017-27880), and USDA NIFA Multi-state Project NC-1194.

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Correspondence to Mengshi Lin.

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Asgari, S., Sun, L., Lin, J. et al. Nanofibrillar cellulose/Au@Ag nanoparticle nanocomposite as a SERS substrate for detection of paraquat and thiram in lettuce. Microchim Acta 187, 390 (2020).

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  • Nanofibrillar cellulose
  • Gold–silver core-shell nanoparticles
  • SERS
  • Pesticides
  • Bimetallic