It is not every issue that one of our articles starts with a quotation in medieval English, and it is appropriate as two of our articles cover the use of spectroscopy in cultural heritage. This is yet another field where the rich information provided by spectroscopy, along with its non-destructive nature (for many techniques), portability and ability to generate chemical images make it the answer to many questions. Kate Nicholson, Andrew Beeby and Richard Gameson are responsible for the medieval English at the start of their article “Shedding light on medieval manuscripts”. They describe the general use of Raman spectroscopy for the analysis of historical artefacts, and, in particular, their work on medieval European manuscripts and 18th century watercolour pigments. They stess the importance of checking the actual laser power density to avoid damage to priceless artefacts.
Jean Robertson, Charles Shand and Estefania Perez-Fernandez update us on the use of various spectroscopies for soil analysis in “The application of Fourier transform infrared, near infrared and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy to soil analysis”. Once again developments in portable instruments lead to greater ease of use and the ability to measure far more samples. They describe the application of FT-IR, NIR and XRF spectroscopies to the development of the National Soils Inventory of Scotland, and their work in developing the use of handheld instruments, particularly FT-IR spectrometers.
Returning to our cultural heritage theme, Bianca Jackson tells us about “TISCH—Terahertz Imaging and Spectroscopy in Cultural Heritage: applications in archaeology, architecture and art conservation science”. Terahertz spectroscopy and imaging of Paleolithic cave etchings, 14th century paintings in a church and a mid-20th century Italian painting are all described. This helps demonstrate the versatility of the technique as well as its potential in cultural heritage preservation.
Christian Huck and co-authors look at “Infrared spectroscopic techniques for the non-invasive and rapid quality control of Chinese traditional medicine Si-Wu-Tang”. They have used benchtop mid-IR and NIR as well as portable NIR instruments for quick and non-invasive quality control of this traditional Chinese medicine. Adulterations could be detected, as well as the raw herbs and different sources of the Si-Wu-Tang. The success of the mobile NIR instrument is particularly interesting due to the growing interest in such technology for its ease-of-use and cost.
Earthworm secretions are of interest to Mark Hodson, Liane Benning, Gianfelice Cinque, Bea Demarchi, Mark Frogley, Kirsty Penkman, Juan Rodriguez-Blanco, Paul Schofield, Emma Versteegh and Katia Wehbe in “Synchrotron-based micro Fourier transform infrared mapping to investigate the spatial distribution of amorphous and crystalline calcium carbonate in earthworm-secreted calcium carbonate balls”. Several earthworm species secrete very small granules of calcium carbonate, and the authors think these are involved in pH regulation. These granules contain different polymorphs of calcium carbonate, including the amorphous form which is very unstable in the laboratory. To investigate this they have FT-IR spectroscopy and mapping, and are continuing this work with Ca XANES.
Read more: Synchrotron-based micro Fourier transform infrared mapping to investigate the spatial distribution of amorphous and crystalline calcium carbonate in earthworm-secreted calcium carbonate balls
- Spectroscopic evidences to understand the influence of marine environments on Built Heritage
- Dates and fates of pyrogenic carbon: using spectroscopy to understand a “missing” global carbon sink
- Infrared spectroscopy as a tool to study plant cuticles
- Solid mixed matrices and their advantages in matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry
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