Detection of potentially toxic metals by SERS using salen complexes

Julie Ann Docherty, Samuel Mabbott, W E Smith, Karen Faulds, C M Davidson, J Reglinski, Duncan Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


Surfaced enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) can discriminate between metal complexes due to the characteristic “spectral fingerprints” obtained. As a result, SERS has the potential to develop relatively simple and sensitive methods of detecting and quantifying a range of metal ions in solution. This could be beneficial for the environmental monitoring of potentially toxic metals (PTMs). Here, salen (C16H16N2O2) was used as a ligand to form complexes of Ni(II), Cu(II), Mn(II) and Co(II) in solution. The SERS spectra showed characteristic spectral differences specific to each metal complex, thus allowing the identification of each of these metal ions. This method allows a number of metal ions to be detected using the same ligand and an identical preparation procedure. The limit of detection (LOD) was determined for each metal ion, and it was found that Ni(II), Cu(II) and Mn(II) could be detected below the WHO’s recommended limits in drinking water at 1, 2 and 2 µg L-1, respectively. Co(II) was found to have an LOD of 20 µg L-1, however no limit has been set for this ion by the WHO as the concentration of Co(II) in drinking water is generally <1-2 μg L-1. A contaminated water sample was also analysed where Mn(II) was detected at a level of 800 µg L-1.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
Early online date10 Aug 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Aug 2016


  • Surfaced enhanced Raman scattering
  • metal complexes
  • metal ions
  • environmental monitoring
  • toxic metals
  • salen


Dive into the research topics of 'Detection of potentially toxic metals by SERS using salen complexes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this