The Watson-Crick DNA double helix is an averaged ideal of multitudinous natural sequence-directed local structural deviations. By effectively derailing normal cellular physiological processes, damaged bases can induce noncanonical irregularities in the local structure of DNA if not efficiently repaired. Pyrimidine bases, especially thymine, are prone to dimerization when exposed to ultraviolet light. A [2 + 2] photocyclo-addition between adjacent thymine bases predominantly produces the cis-syn photodimer. These lesions, implicated in skin cancer, bend DNA by ∼30° due to their structural and conformational changes. Such changes in molecular properties can be detected by differential quenching of CdS nanoparticle luminescence and by surface-enhanced Raman scattering spectroscopy on metal nanoparticle substrates.