Near-Infrared Applications in Biotechnology

R. Raghavachari

Volume 25 of the Practical Spectroscopy Series, Marcel Dekker, New York, 383 pp (2001).

Reviewed by Brian Osborne, BRI Australia Ltd, North Ryde, Australia

This book is divided into two unequal parts. Part A (10 Chapters; 290 pages) reviews NIR fluorescence and Part B (3 Chapters; 73 pages) deals with NIR absorption spectroscopy. The inequality of treatment arises from the considerable depth of detail in the fluorescence section compared with the concise review style of the absorption chapters. It is suggested in the Foreword that fluorescence spectroscopy may well be more important than absorption for the applications covered by this book. Another reason for the unequal treatment may be that the NIR absorption spectroscopy topics presented by the same authors are also found in another volume in the Practical Spectroscopy Series (Volume 27, Handbook of Near-Infrared Analysis, Second Edition, 2001) and in a forthcoming book on pharmaceutical applications of NIR. Nevertheless, inclusion of the absorption chapters makes the book complete in keeping with its title.

In keeping with the theme of the book, the editor proposes in his introduction, a biomedical definition of the NIR region. This is the wavelength range 650–2500 nm, defined on the basis of being beyond the response of the human eye.

The longest chapter (60 pages) with the most references (134) is Chapter 3 which deals with the chemistry of polymethine dyes fluorescing in the NIR region. It provides the foundation for succeeding chapters on the use of such dyes in fluorescence detection in immunoassays, DNA sequencing, medical imaging and single-molecule detection. The common theme is the low amount of interference in NIR fluorescence leading to high sensitivity compared with the UV-Vis.

One chapter that stands out as an oddity (but that is not to say that it is uninteresting) is Chapter 10: "Beyond biotechnology and into popular technology" where we enter the world of such things as CD-ROMs and bar codes.

The fact that of 84 references in NIR applications in medicine (Chapter 6) and 98 references in biomedical applications of NIR absorption spectroscopy (Chapter 12) almost none is older than 1990, testifies as to how young a field of science this is.

Overall, this book is a valuable addition to the library of any organisation involved in biotechnology.

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