I have a sample (for the purpose of this question let's call this Sample A) consisting of oil (edible olive oil) mixed with a contaminant (Contaminant B) from the Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons family.
I have tested pure forms of Contaminant B with gold nanoparticles and I am able to see great signals. (Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy)
When I try to perform SERS on Sample A I notice that the peaks are suddenly gone. I suspect the following:
- The signals from the PAH is being shadowed by the fluorescence of the oil
- The signals from the PAH is being absorbed by the oil molecules, leaving no observable peaks
- The oil molecules is preventing the PAH molecules from being in close physical proximity to the gold nanoparticles for SERS's enhancement
Question ONE: Which of these is true?
Question TWO: How can I solve this problem? I can only think of:
- Photobleaching (not really practical for the purpose of my paper)
- Chromatography on Sample A (tried Acetone and Methanol but to no avail)
- Adding an agent that could eliminate fluorescence from the oil molecules (I have no idea what could achieve this)
- Adding an agent to digest or destroy the oil in Sample A leaving just the PAH in the remaining solution (again, no idea what this could be)