Pesticides are used in plantations to kill insects, larvae, fungi, and weeds that can spread diseases in plants, making it impossible for vegetation to grow. On the other hand, the use of pesticides outside the conditions established by technical rules can result in negative impacts on the environment and human and animal health. In this context, research on pesticide detection has been growing to identify, monitor, and understand their impacts. This project aims to optimize the detection process of the fungicide carbendazim through Surface-enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS). Carbendazim is a fast-absorbing fungicide, legalized in Brazil, with protective and curative action, used in cotton, rice, beans, corn, and soybean crops. Our research group has previous experience in detecting carbendazim and, for this reason, it was chosen as the target molecule. In the optimization process, SERS substrates formed by silver nanoparticles dispersed in paper and colloidal suspension will be evaluated, as well as portable and benchtop Raman equipment, to compare the intensities and the reproducibility of the SERS signal. We emphasize that the reproducibility of the SERS signal for analytical applications (SERS signal intensity vs target molecule concentration) is a challenge for the area, since such intensity depends on the homogeneity of the SERS substrate, mainly in terms of the shape and spatial distribution of the metallic nanoparticles. This project is linked to the Thematic Project FAPESP 2018/22214-6 "Towards the convergence of technologies: from sensors and biosensors to information visualization and machine learning for data analysis in clinical diagnostics" and intends to perform a BEPE internship at the Universidad Austral de Chile under the supervision of the Professor Dr. Igor Orlando Osório Román, an environmental chemist specializing in plasmonics applied to spectroscopy.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: