Significant Advancement in Analytical Detection of NFZ by the Department of Chemistry and RARE Lab

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The Department of Chemistry and RARE Lab are excited to announce a groundbreaking advancement in the field of analytical detection. Researchers Dr Rajapandiyan Panneerselvan, Asst. Professor and Ph.D scholars, Ms Arunima Jinachandran and Ms Jayasree Kumar have developed a novel method for detecting nitrofurazone (NFZ) using three-dimensional silver nanopopcorns (Ag NPCs) on a flexible polycarbonate membrane (PCM) in their paper “Silver nanopopcorns decorated on flexible membrane for SERS detection of nitrofurazone” published in Microchimica Acta. This innovative technique leverages the power of surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) to provide a highly sensitive and practical solution for detecting NFZ on various surfaces, including fish.

Nitrofurazone (NFZ) is an antibiotic commonly used in veterinary medicine that poses significant health risks if residues enter the food chain. Despite regulatory bans, its illegal use continues, necessitating highly sensitive detection methods. While effective, traditional methods such as high-performance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry are often costly and labor-intensive. The new SERS-based method offers a more efficient and straightforward alternative.


The synthesis of three-dimensional silver nanopopcorns (Ag NPCs) onto a flexible polycarbonate membrane (PCM) for the detection of nitrofurazone (NFZ) on fish surfaces by surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is presented. The proposed flexible Ag-NPCs/PCM SERS substrate exhibits significant Raman signal intensity enhancement with a measured enhancement factor of 2.36 × 10^6. This enhancement is primarily attributed to the hotspots created on Ag NPCs, which include numerous nanoscale protrusions and internal crevices distributed across the surface. The detection of NFZ using this flexible SERS substrate demonstrates a low limit of detection (LOD) of 3.7 × 10^−9 M and uniform, reproducible Raman signal intensities with a relative standard deviation below 8.34%. The substrate also exhibits excellent stability, retaining 70% of its efficacy even after 10 days of storage. Notably, the practical detection of NFZ in tap water, honey water, and fish surfaces achieves LOD values of 1.35 × 10^−8 M, 5.76 × 10^−7 M, and 3.61 × 10^−8 M, respectively, highlighting its effectiveness across different sample types. The developed Ag-NPCs/PCM SERS substrate presents promising potential for the sensitive SERS detection of toxic substances in real-world samples.


The synthesis involves creating silver nanopopcorns on a flexible polycarbonate membrane using a simple chemical method. The resulting Ag NPCs exhibit high surface roughness with numerous nanoscale features that enhance the Raman signal. This flexible substrate can easily collect samples from irregular surfaces without requiring extensive preparation.

This SERS substrate can detect NFZ in various real-world samples, including:

  • Tap water
  • Honey water
  • Fish surfaces

The method’s sensitivity and ease of use make it a promising tool for ensuring food safety and monitoring environmental contaminants.

The Department believes this development will significantly impact public health by providing a reliable and accessible method for detecting harmful substances in the food chain.

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