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Design of a Surface-Enhanced Spectroscopy based Device for the Rapid Detection of Organophosphate Pesticides and Pyrethroid Insecticides in Fruits and Vegetables

Primary Information


Nano-Technology Hardware

Project No.


Sanction and Project Initiation

Sanction No: SR/S9/Z-05/2015

Sanction Date: 07/03/2017

Project Initiation date: 01/04/2018

Project Duration: 36

Partner Ministry/Agency/Industry



Role of partner:


Support from partner:50% of the total fund sanctioned

Principal Investigator

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K. George Thomas
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Thiruvananthapuram (IISER-TVM)

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Thomas Biju Mathew
Pesticide Residue Research and Analytical Laboratory, Kerala Agricultural University

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Anil Shaji
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Thiruvananthapuram (IISER-TVM)

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K. R. Arun
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Thiruvananthapuram (IISER-TVM)

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Y. Adithya Lakshmanna
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Thiruvananthapuram (IISER-TVM)

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Sheetal Dharmatti
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Thiruvananthapuram (IISER-TVM)

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R. S. Swathi
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Thiruvananthapuram (IISER-TVM)

Scope and Objectives

The overall objective of the proposal is the design of a surface-enhanced spectroscopy based device for screening of organophosphate pesticides and pyrethroid insecticides in fruits and vegetables. The envisaged device comprises (i) a silver core-shell nanoparticle plasmonic platform based on the two patents filed by IISER-TVM and subsequent modifications which will be undertaken under this project, (ii) a hand-held Raman/fluorescence spectrometer (purchased from commercial manufacturers) and (iii) an in-house developed data processing system which will interface spectrometer with the plasmonic platform allowing the rapid on-site quantification of pesticide/insecticide residue.


Device which determines the total pesticide/insecticide content in the fruits and vegetables and provide san output as PASS/FAIL via spectral matching and further indicate the risk level as (i) no (ii) low (iii) medium and (iv) high. A device having ability to monitor the pesticide/insecticide residues in fruits and vegetables during its production, transportation and marketing which can in turn protect common man from chronic health effects due to their intake.Successful design of such a device will open up newer avenues for the identification and quantification of molecules of importance in the areas of health, environment and safety.



Scientific Output

A combination of normal QuEChERS method with GCB has been successfully optimized to get good recovery yield of pesticides from the vegetables. To improve the interaction of our non-polar analytes of interest with nanoparticles modification of silica shell is being carried out. New core-shell nanostructures has also been synthesized and characterized. Plasmonic platforms using the core-shell nanostructures synthesized have been fabricated on Si wafers, glass slides and filter paper. Fabrication on other platforms is being investigated. Acquiring Raman spectra for pure pesticides, in the presence of nanoparticles ,and interference matrix, for creating a database (HTML based interface) has been completed. SERS spectra of pesticides are now being acquired on different plasmonic platforms in the presence of various interference matrices and in mixtures. SERS spectra of two widely used pesticides in curry leaves could be obtained at ppm level concentration. Numerical methods such as matched filtering, maximum likelihood methods, wavelet based transformation, and least mean square algorithm are being tested for detection of SERS spectra of pesticides from fruits and vegetable matrices. Among the various methods, numerical implementation of matched filtering is completed.


Results and outcome till date

A quick, efficient and cost-effective process for extraction of pesticides from fruits and vegetables with recovery yield comparable to the the commercial kits has been optimised. Synthesis and characterisation of core-shell nanoparticles for enhanced SERS detection of pesticides. Design of plasmonic platform on Si wafer using Au film and core-shell nanoparticles has been successfully optimised. Successful detection at ppm concentrations of two widelyused pesticides in green leafy vegetables such as curry leaves, mint leaves and coriander leaves. The Raman spectra of pesticide and insecticide in their pure form, in the presence of Ag nanoparticle and the Raman spectra of interference vegetable matrix has been successfully uploaded to the Raman spectral database.


Societal benefit and impact anticipated

The conventional methods of extraction and analysis (GC-MS) of pesticide require a time frame of one week, hence cannot be implemented for perishable items like fruits and vegetables. We have optimized a quick, inexpensive and efficient method (30 min) for the extraction of pesticide/insecticide residues from fruits and vegetable and its rapid analysis by surface Enhanced Raman spectroscopic (SERS) device. The high sensitivity of the 3D and sandwich plasmonic platforms in the detection of pesticides present in green leafy vegetables (at ppm level) has also been demonstrated. The in-house data processing software is being developed using a combination of match-filtering techniques, maximum likelihood methods and wavelet analysis. This will aid in systematic identification of individual pesticides from mixtures and in the presence of matrix interferences. Our fast extraction procedures and SERS platform will drastically reduce the time for pesticide identification to just three hours. The device will provide a PASS/FAIL output depending on the content of the pesticide residue.

Next steps

A bench-top device which will enable governmental and private agencies to monitor pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables during production, transportation and marketing. Implementation will require three to four years from the start of the project.

Publications and reports



SERS SUBSTRATE AND METHOD THEREOF M. Shanthil, H. Fathima and K. George Thomas Applicant: Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Thiruvananthapuram (IISER-TVM) Application No: 201841005500 Date of filing Complete: 14/02/2018

Scholars and Project Staff

1. Research Associate (RA-III) - 1 (Joined September 2017) 2. Project Assistants - 4 No. Sanctioned Research Associate: 1. Dr. T. Shyamala - RA III (until the end of project) Project Assistants 2. Ms. Suryamol 3. Mr. Livin Paul 4. Ms. Jeena Elsa George 5. Ms. Lekshmi G Nair 6. Mr. Binoy Mathew 7. Ms. Rama Dhali 8. Ms. Ashwini Sen (Left October 2018) 9. Ms. M A Hadiya (Left December 2017)

Financial Information

  • Total sanction: Rs. 284.55 lakhs

  • Amount received: Rs. 183.95 lakhs

  • Amount utilised for Equipment: Rs. 45.48 lakhs

  • Amount utilised for Manpower: Rs. 38.19 lakhs

  • Amount utilised for Consumables: Rs. 38.21 lakhs

  • Amount utilised for Contingency: Rs. 6.58 lakhs

  • Amount utilised for Travel: Rs. 3 lakhs

  • Amount utilised for Other Expenses: 12.00 lakhs

  • Amount utilised for Overheads: Rs. 36.12 lakhs

Equipment and facilities


Main Equipment Purchased: Commercially available Handheld Raman Spectrometer Facilities created: A 1000 sq. ft laboratory space at the Central Instrumentation Facility of IISER-TVM for carrying out project related activities has been set up with necessary furniture and equipments. The facilities are in use.

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