Detection of explosives

Explosive detection is an actual and pressing issue. Surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) spectroscopy enables rapid, faultless detection of different classes of explosives including triacetone triperoxide (TATP). This explosive was, for example, used in the attacks in Paris in November 2015.

Traces of explosives on clothing or luggage are picked up with a fleece by means of the so-called wiping test. The fleece is heated to analyse the vaporizable components. The low amounts of the substances are a great challenge for Raman spectroscopy, which is as characteristic as a fingerprint.


The principle of thermal deposition is used to gather the explosive molecules on the plasmonic substrate. For this purpose, the nanostructured surface is located on a cooling finger. On to this, the substances to be analyzed, which have been baked out of the fleece by means of the thermal desorption unit, are redeposited in a minimal area. This process is also referred to as cryofocusing.


Further information

Explosive detection

H. Wackerbarth, C. Lenth, S. Funke, L. Gundrum, F.  Rotter, F.  Büttner, J. Hagemann, M. Wellhausen, U. Plachetka, C. Moormann, C. Strube, A. Walte:
Surface enhanced vibrational spectroscopy for the detection of explosives, Proc. SPIE, 8896, art. no. 889609, 2013.

H. Wackerbarth, L. Gundrum, C. Salb, K. Christou, W. Viöl:
Challenge of false alarms in nitroaromatic explosive detection-a detection device based on surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, Applied Optics, 49 (23) 4367-4371, 2010.

H. Wackerbarth, C. Salb, L. Gundrum, M. Niederkrüger, K. Christou, V. Beushausen, W. Viöl:
Detection of explosives based on surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, Applied Optics, 49 (23) 4362-4366, 2010.


Plasmonic substrates

J. Barnett, U.Plachetka, C. Nowak, H. Wackerbarth:
Highly periodic Au nano-disc arrays for plasmon resonance-controlled SERS structures on fused silica using UV-NIL based double-layer lift-off process, Microelectronic Engineering, 172, 45-48, 2017.

S. Funke, H. Wackerbarth:
The role of the dielectric environment in surface enhanced Raman scattering on the detection of a 4-Nitrothiophenol monolayer, J. Raman Spectrosc., 44 (7), 1010-1013 2013.

K. Christou, I. Knorr, J. Ihlemann, H. Wackerbarth, V. Beushausen:
Fabrication and Characterization of Homogeneous SERS-Substrates by Single Pulse UV-Laser Treatment of Gold and Silver Films, Langmuir, 26 (23), 18564-18569, 2010.


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Laser-Laboratorium Göttingen e.V. (LLG)

Contact person:

Head of Department
Dr. Hainer Wackerbarth
"Photonic Sensor Technologies"

Tel.: +49(0)551/5035-58
FAX: +49(0)551/5035-99