Perchlorate (ClO<sub>4</sub><sup>−</sup>) has emerged as a widespread environmental contaminant and has been detected in various food products and even in human breast milk and urine. This research developed a sensing technique based on surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) for rapid screening and monitoring of this contaminant in groundwater and surface water. The technique was found to be capable of detecting ClO<sub>4</sub><sup>−</sup> at concentrations as low as 10<sup>−9</sup> M (or ∼0.1 μg/L) by using 2-dimethylaminoethanethiol (DMAE) modified gold nanoparticles as a SERS substrate. Quantitative analysis of ClO<sub>4</sub><sup>−</sup> was validated with good reproducibility by using both simulated and contaminated groundwater samples. When coupled with a portable Raman spectrometer, this technique has the potential to be used as an <i>in situ</i>, rapid screening tool for perchlorate in the environment.
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