Subnanomolar Sensitivity of Filter Paper-Based SERS Sensor for Pesticide Detection by Hydrophobicity Change of Paper Surface

Minwoo Lee, Kyudeok Oh, Han Kyu Choi, Sung Gun Lee, Hye Jung Youn, Hak Lae Lee, Dae Hong Jeong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


As a cost-effective approach for detecting trace amounts of pesticides, filter paper-based SERS sensors have been the subject of intensive research. One of the hurdles to overcome is the difficulty of retaining nanoparticles on the surface of the paper because of the hydrophilic nature of the cellulose fibers in paper. This reduces the sensitivity and reproducibility of paper-based SERS sensors due to the low density of nanoparticles and short retention time of analytes on the paper surface. In this study, filter paper was treated with alkyl ketene dimer (AKD) to modify its property from hydrophilic to hydrophobic. AKD treatment increased the contact angle of the aqueous silver nanoparticle (AgNP) dispersion, which consequently increased the density of AgNPs. The retention time of the analyte was also increased by preventing its rapid absorption into the filter paper. The SERS signal was strongly enhanced by the increased number of SERS hot spots owing to the increased density of AgNPs on a small contact area of the filter surface. The reproducibility and sensitivity of the SERS signal were optimized by controlling the distribution of AgNPs on the surface of the filter paper by adjusting the concentration of the AgNP solution. Using this SERS sensor with a hydrophobicity-modified filter paper, the spot-to-spot variation of the SERS intensity of 25 spots of 4-aminothiophenol was 6.19%, and the limits of detection of thiram and ferbam as test pesticides were measured to be 0.46 nM and 0.49 nM, respectively. These proof-of-concept results indicate that this paper-based SERS sensor can serve for highly sensitive pesticide detection with low cost and easy fabrication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-159
Number of pages9
JournalACS Sensors
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 26 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korean government (NRF-2017R1D1A1B03029880 and NRF-2016M2A2A4A03913619), BrainKorea 21 PLUS project through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (21B20151713505) and The Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), funded by the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (HI17C1264).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.


  • filter paper-based SERS sensor
  • hydrophobic modification
  • silver nanoparticles (AgNPs)
  • surface-enhanced Raman scattering
  • trace analysis


Dive into the research topics of 'Subnanomolar Sensitivity of Filter Paper-Based SERS Sensor for Pesticide Detection by Hydrophobicity Change of Paper Surface'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this