Instantaneous trace gas fingerprint with laser frequency combs

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high-finesse-cavity-for-laser-frequency-combs-sTrace gas spectroscopic detection has drawn much interest in recent years, as it both allows a better understanding of the molecular spectra of weak overtone transitions and in situ non-intrusive sensing of compounds at low concentration. However, recording a broadband spectrum within a very short measurement time and with high sensitivity remains a challenge. Now, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have recorded ultrasensitive absorption broadband spectra within tens of microseconds by combining cavity enhancement and frequency comb spectroscopy.

Read more: Instantaneous trace gas fingerprint with laser frequency combs


Faster biopsies thanks to NMR

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Press release from Nature News - under embargo for Monday 14 December 1800 London time (GMT) Chemical fingerprints of tissue samples taken from patients during operations could soon help surgeons to decide quickly where to make their incisions. Nature News has reported that two groups are leading efforts to use nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to analyse the metabolites in biopsies and relay information back to theatre within minutes.

Read more: Faster biopsies thanks to NMR


Understanding protein transitions

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protein-dynamics-sUnderstanding the extremely fast atomic mechanisms at work when a protein transitions from one shape to another has been an elusive scientific goal for years, but an essential one for elucidating the full range of protein function. How do proteins transition between distinct shapes without unfolding in the process? Until now, this question has been a hypothetical one, approached by computation only rather than experimentation. In a study in Cell (doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2009.11.022), researchers reveal for the first time computationally and experimentally the molecular pathway that a protein takes to cross the energy barrier. The study reports how folded proteins can efficiently change shape while avoiding unfolding, a critical requirement for any protein in the cell.

Read more: Understanding protein transitions


Leibniz Prize 2010: award for FCS work

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One of the ten winners of the 2010 Leibnitz Prize, Petra Schwille, is recognised for her work with fluorescence correlation spectroscopy.

Read more: Leibniz Prize 2010: award for FCS work


A challenge to improve NMR for structural biology

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casdnmr-1-sIn structural biology, the only technique available to predict the three-dimensional structure of large complex molecules in solution, such as proteins and DNA, is nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. To improve the techniques behind these predictions, the “eNMR” project has launched a new initiative. In September’s Nature Methods (doi: 10.1038/nmeth0909-625) the project issued an invitation to the entire biomolecular NMR community to participate in a large scale test of modern computing algorithms. This community-wide “contest” will potentially improve efficiency, reproducibility and reliability of NMR structure determination. eNMR will be using the Enabling Grids for E-sciencE infrastructure to power their analysis.

Read more: A challenge to improve NMR for structural biology


Herschel’s splendid spectra

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News-21_6-Herschel-bottom-sNew spectra, obtained with the SPIRE, PACS and HIFI instruments of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Herschel Space Observatory during the performance verification phase, have been released by ESA and the instrument teams. Taken together with earlier images the observatory is now on the way to demonstrating that the promised imaging and spectroscopic capabilities are being met.

Read more: Herschel’s splendid spectra


Femtosecond Raman imaging of chemical reactions

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The judicious use of a state-of-the-art imaging method enables researchers to capture structural snapshots of complex molecules as they participate in chemical reactions, revealing the sequence of specific atomic motions that lead to chemical change. It’s thought the approach, described in Nature (doi: 10.1038/nature08527), can be used more widely to improve our understanding of important chemical transformations.

Read more: Femtosecond Raman imaging of chemical reactions


Identifying molecules with IR spectroscopy could lead to new medicines

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An interdisciplinary team of researchers has created a new, ultra-sensitive technique to analyse life-sustaining protein molecules. The technique may profoundly change the methodology of biomolecular studies and chart a new path to effective diagnostics and early treatment of complex diseases.Researchers from Boston University and Tufts University near Boston, USA, recently demonstrated an infrared spectroscopy technique that can directly identify the "vibrational fingerprints" of extremely small quantities of proteins, the machinery involved in maintaining living organisms.

Read more: Identifying molecules with IR spectroscopy could lead to new medicines


Award for CD work

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Professor Bonnie Ann Wallace of Birkbeck College, University of London, UK, has received the 2009 Royal Society of Chemistry Interdisciplinary Prize and the 2010 AstraZeneca Award from the Biochemical Society for her work on Development of Methods and Applications for Circular Dichroism and Synchrotron Radiation Circular Dichroism Spectroscopy. She has also recently co-edited (with Dr Robert William Janes of Queen Mary, University of London) a book published by IOS Press on Modern Techniques for Circular Dichroism and Synchrotron Radiation Circular Dichroism Spectroscopy.

Bonnie Wallace at the NSLS synchrotron radiation circular dichroism beamline.


2010 Bunsen-Kirchhoff Award for Analytical Spectroscopy

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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. Especially preferred is an oeuvre in new areas like spectroscopy in nano compartments, spectroscopy of biomolecules etc. The Award consists of an award-document and an amount of €2500 sponsored by PerkinElmer GmbH and the DASp seeks nominations for the 2010 Bunsen–Kirchhoff Award for Analytical Spectroscopy. The Award will be presented at Analytica in March 2010 in Munich, Germany.

A nomination should include: 1) letter with the candidate’s accomplishments; 2) list of publications or recent work; 3) scientific curriculum vitae stating the age of the candidate; the candidate’s address, phone fax and e-mail.

Nominations can be made by members of DASp but eligibility is open for any scientist meeting the requirements. Self-nomination is not allowed.

Further information is available at: All documents should be sent not later than 31 December 2009 to: Prof. Dr Detlef Günther, President of the Jury for the Bunsen-Kirchhoff Award 2010, Laboratorium für Anorganische Chemie, ETH Hönggerberg, HCI, CH-8093 Zürich, Switzerland ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).


New test for explosive liquids

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Since a failed terrorist attack in 2006, plane passengers have not been able to carry bottles of liquid through security at airports, leaving some parched at the airport and others having expensive toiletries confiscated, but work by a group of physicists in Germany is paving the way to eliminate this necessary nuisance.

Read more: New test for explosive liquids


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