Tracking Airborne Molecules from Afar: Three-Dimensional Metal–Organic Framework-Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering Platform for Stand-Off and Real-Time Atmospheric Monitoring

ACS Nano 2019, 13 Sep 2019 

Gia Chuong Phan-Quang, Ningchen Yang, Hiang Kwee Lee, Howard Yi Fan Sim, Charlynn Sher Lin Koh, Ya-Chuan Kao, Zhao Cai Wong, Eddie Khay Ming Tan, Yue-E Miao, Wei Fan, Tianxi Liu, In Yee Phang*, Xing Yi Ling*

Stand-off Raman spectroscopy combines the advantages of both Raman spectroscopy and remote detection to retrieve molecular vibrational fingerprints of chemicals at inaccessible sites. However, it is currently restricted to the detection of pure solids and liquids and not widely applicable for dispersed molecules in air. Herein, we realize real-time stand-off SERS spectroscopy for remote and multiplex detection of atmospheric airborne species by integrating a long-range optic system with a 3D analyte-sorbing metal–organic framework (MOF)-integrated SERS platform. Formed via the self-assembly of Ag@MOF core–shell nanoparticles, our 3D plasmonic architecture exhibits micrometer thick SERS hotspot to allow active sorption and rapid detection of aerosols, gas, and volatile organic compounds down to parts-per-billion levels, notably at a distance up to 10 m apart. The platform is highly sensitive to changes in atmospheric content, as demonstrated in the temporal monitoring of gaseous CO2 in several cycles. Importantly, we demonstrate the remote and multiplex quantification of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon mixtures in real time under outdoor daylight. By overcoming core challenges in current remote Raman spectroscopy, our strategy creates an opportunity in the long-distance and sensitive monitoring of air/gaseous environment at the molecular level, which is especially important in environmental conservation, disaster prevention, and homeland defense