Sensitive, accurate and reliable methods are needed for the detection and identification of hazardous materials (chemical,
biological, and energetic) in the field. Utilizing such a sensing capability incorporated into a portable detection system
would have wide spread beneficial impact to the U.S. military and first responder communities. Surface enhanced
Raman scattering (SERS) is increasingly becoming a reputable technique for the real-time, dynamic detection and
identification of hazard materials. SERS is particularly advantageous as it does not suffer from interferences from water,
requires little to no sample preparation, is robust and can be used in numerous environments, is relatively insensitive to
the wavelength of excitation employed, and produces a narrow-band spectral signature unique to the molecular
vibrations of the analyte.
We will report on the characterization and sensing capabilities of these next generation SERS substrates for the detection
of energetic materials (ammonium nitrate, TNT, PETN, and RDX). Additionally, new efforts producing highly uniform
samples, with known concentrations of energetic materials inkjet printed onto the SERS sensing surface using a precisely
calibrated MicroJet system will be shown.