X-ray spectrometer detects calcium on the Moon

The D-CIXS X-ray spectrometer on board the European Space Agency’s (ESA) SMART-1 spacecraft has made the first unambiguous remote-sensing detection of calcium on the Moon. SMART-1 is currently performing the verification and calibration of its instruments, while flying in orbit 450km above the Moon at its closest distance.

Although it is still preparing for full lunar operations, D-CIXS has already started sending back high-quality data. D-CIXS is designed to measure the global composition of the Moon by measuring its X-ray fluorescence. Under normal solar illumination, it can detect elemental Mg, Al and Si and several other elements during solar flares.

On 15 January 2005, between 07:00 and about 09:00 Central European Time, a solar flare occurred. “The Sun was kind to us”, said Professor Manuel Grande of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK, leader of the D-CIXS instrument team. “It set off a large X-ray flare just as we took our first look downwards at the lunar surface.”

At the time of the solar flare, D-CIXS was observing Mare Crisium, and detected the presence of calcium there in other neighbouring areas (see Figure).

D-CIXS is an ultra-compact X-ray camera and forms one of the most innovative elements of the SMART-1 scientific instrumentation. It is a cube just 15cm wide, weighing less than 5kg. D-CIXS is the first instrument of its kind to be tested in space. It is also the first X-ray spectrometer ever flown around the moon with sufficient spectral resolution to separate signals coming from different chemical elements.


Biotech exhibition

IBLA (International Biotech and Lab Automation Europe), which will be held from 15 to 16 November in London, UK, will arrange for free coach transport for invited visitors, sponsored by major exhibitors, from selected science hubs, initially throughout the south of the UK. The exhibition and conference is in its fourth year.,


MS world record

The largest yet mass-to-charge ratio of over 1 MDa with a single charge has been measured by Professor Renato Zenobi and his group at the ETH Zürich using a time-of-flight mass spectrometer with a pulsed UV laser for desorption and ionisation. They have not needed to resort to the use of multiply-charged ions, but have used an instrument equipped with a superconducting tunnel junction detector. This allowed simple and directly interpretable mass spectra to be obtained from immunoglobuline M (c. 1 MDa) and from von Willebrand factor, a group of proteins that play an important role in the coagulation of blood (signals at 0.5, 1, 1.5 and 2 MDa)., This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Tomas Hirschfeld Award

The winner of the 2005 Hirschfeld Award, presented by the International Council for Near Infrared Spectroscopy (ICNIRS), is Professor Ana Garrido-Varo of the University of Córdoba, Spain. The award was presented at the Pittsburgh Conference in Orlando, FL, USA in March.

Professor Garrido-Varo’s main scientific work is in developing robust calibrations for use in the Spanish agro–food industry and the evaluation of analysis modes for the precise analysis of unground/intact agro–food products.


2006 Bunsen–Kirchhoff Award

The DASp (German Working group for Applied Spectroscopy) regularly awards the “Bunsen-Kirchhoff-Preis für analytische Spektroskopie” to honour preferably the work of young scientists from universities, research institutes or industry who made excellent contributions to analytical spectroscopy. A life-work of a scientific personality can be recognised as well.

The Award consists of an award document and an amount of €2500 sponsored by PerkinElmer GmbH. The DASp is seeking nominations for the 2006 Bunsen–Kirchhoff Award for Analytical Spectroscopy. The Award will be presented during a Bunsen–Kirchhoff Symposium at the Analytica Conference 2006 in Munich, Germany, from 25 to 28 April 2006.

Nominations must be made by members of the DASp, but any scientist meeting the requirements is eligibile. Self-nomination is not allowed. The decision as to whom the prize is to be awarded shall be made by a jury consisting of the current members of the board of DASp.

A nomination should include: a letter with the candidate’s accomplishments; a list of publications or recent work; scientific curriculum vitae stating the age of the candidate; the candidate’s address, phone fax and e-mail. All documents should be sent not later than 30 November 2005 to Professor Dr Hugo M. Ortner, Osterbichl 16, A-6600 Breitenwang/Reutte, Austria. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Copernicus Award

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and the Fundacja na Rzecz Nauki Polskiej (FNP, Foundation for Polish Science) have established the first-ever Copernicus Award. This will honour researchers who have made outstanding and lasting contributions to German–Polish research cooperation, especially in the promotion of young researchers. Nominations are invited from researchers working at universities or research institutions in Germany or Poland or at scientific institutions devoted to German–Polish cooperation. Laureates will be selected by a jury of three German and three Polish representatives, and the award ceremony will be held alternately in Germany and Poland.

The prize money of €50,000 will be divided equally among the laureates, who may use the money for any scientific purpose within the scope of the funding programmes of the DFG and FNP. Nominations must be received before 15 October 2005. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,


Enols detected in flames by MBMS

Enols have not been previously detected in flames, but their presence has been discovered using molecular-beam mass spectrometry (MBMS). This work is the result of an international collaboration between the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Cornell University, Sandia National Laboratory in the USA, the University of Bielefeld, Germany and the National Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory in Hefei, China. The work was carried out at the Advanced Light Source facility at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in CA, USA. The MBMS instrument there is 40 times more precise than others in key energy measurements and takes advantage of the intensely bright beams from the Advanced Light Source. It is hoped that the discovery of enols in flames, which had not been incorporated into present-day computer models, will help in the development of cleaner burning fuels.

MS in the life sciences

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A new report, Mass Spectrometry: Opportunities in the Life Science Market, is available from Research and Markets. It analyses the market from the perspective of the end user and provides information on current usage of mass spectrometers as well as the suppliers researchers are most likely to buy from.


MS points to authenticity of Shroud of Turin

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The Shroud of Turin, thought by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus, has been through a number of analytical procedures. In 1988, 14C tests set the age at 1260–1390 AD, meaning that it could not have been authentic. However, new evidence shows that the sample used to date the Shroud in 1988 was taken from an expertly rewoven patch. “Pyrolysis mass spectrometry results from the sample area coupled with microscopic and microchemical observations prove that the radiocarbon sample was not part of the original cloth…” according to Raymond Rogers of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in NM, USA. His results have been published in Thermochimica Acta:


Process spectroscopy market

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According to a report (RG-228R The Process Spectroscopy Market) from Business Communications Company, the worldwide market for process spectroscopy instrumentation is expected to grow from $178 million in 2004 to $232 million in 2009, an average growth rate of 5.4%.

NIR is expected to constitute the largest part of the market in 2009, with sales of $71 million due to the impact of the PAT initiative. The highest growth rate is expected among Raman spectrometers, with an average of 8% over the period. Raman is expected to be validated as a PAT technique, helping its growth.

Several trends are seen to influence the market. There is an increasing tendency for UV and visible systems manufacturers to develop cheaper, more portable versions of their high-end systems in response to competition from miniature spectrometers. Development of low-cost Raman devices is seen as well. NIR and FT instruments do not see significant competition from portable devices, and high-end systems, particularly in the NIR, continue to dominate many process markets.

New technologies, however, have the potential to change that situation. Micro-electro-mechanical-systems (MEMS) technology offers the potential to make a “spectrometer on a chip” and are expected to become a viable option for process monitoring, if not during the forecast period, then shortly after. Acousto-optic tunable filters (AOTFs) are being produced commercially and used in NIR systems selling in the $45,000 range. Both of these are seen as indicators that the process spectroscopy market 10 years from now may be significantly different from today’s market, with cheaper and more portable systems operating in many manufacturing applications.


20th anniversary for ISIS

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ISIS is the world’s brightest pulsed neutron and muon source; it is located at the UK Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford. ISIS first produced neutrons on 16 December 1984, and last December was the 20th anniversary of this event.


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