The analytical application of surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) to the determination of nicotine is demonstrated. A simple spectroelectrochemical method using a copper or silver electrode as the SERS substrate has been developed, consisting of three steps: polishing a working electrode to a mirror finish; roughening the electrode in an electrolyte solution; and, finally, depositing the nicotine analyte onto the roughened electrode after immersion in a sample solution. During the reduction cycle, a large enhancement in nicotine Raman scattering is observed at the electrode surface. The intensity of the SERS signal on a silver electrode is linear with concentration from 10 to 900 ppb, with an estimated detection limit of 7 ppb. The total analysis time per sample is approximately five minutes. This procedure has been used to analyze the extract from a cigarette side-stream smoke sample (environmental tobacco smoke); the SERS results agree well with those of conventional gas chromatographic analysis.
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