The Bakerian Lecture is the Royal Society’s premier annual lecture in the physical sciences (in practice, physics, chemistry, mathematics, meteorology, metallurgy, astronomy, geology and related subjects) and dates back to 1775. Previous awardees have included Humphrey Davy, Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, Lord Rayleigh, Ernest Rutherford, Gerhard Herzberg, George Porter etc. Since 1901 when Nobel Prizes were inaugurated, 26 Nobel Laureates have given the Bakerian Lecture.
The 2008 Bakerian Lecture was given by Professor Robin Clark CNZM FRS, University College London, UK, on the subject “Raman Microscopy, Pigments and the Arts/Science Interface” at the Royal Society of London on Thursday 7 February. It was broadcast simultaneously to New Zealand and elsewhere and a recording of the lecture is available from the Royal Society’s webcast archive. Further information may be obtained at the website: www.royalsociety.org
This has been awarded jointly to William E. Moerner (Stanford University) and Allen J. Bard (University of Texas) for their ingenious creation of a new field of science, single molecule spectroscopy and electrochemistry.
William E. Moerner was the first to perform optical detection and spectroscopy of a single, individual molecule in condensed matter. Allen J. Bard pioneered the development of the scanning electrochemical microscope, allowing high-resolution, chemical imaging of surfaces and the study of chemical reactions at the nanoscopic regime, applied to biological and catalysis systems. By pushing optical detection to the ultimate limit of one molecule, these scientists changed our understanding of the chemistry and physics of individual molecules.
Professor William E. Moerner´s ingenious contributions to science have centred around two recurrent themes, which on one hand, address the development of a novel and revolutionary spectroscopic tool, single molecule spectroscopy; and on the other, its applications to problems in physics and analytical chemistry, biochemistry and biophysics. Since their pioneering steps in 1987, Moerner and his team have demonstrated a variety of sparking new subfields, including spectral diffusion of individual emitters, lifetime-limited line widths, temperatureinduced dephasing, non-linear saturation of a single molecule, photo-induced Poisson kinetics, blinking and switching of a single emitter, photon anti-bunching and optically-detected magnetic resonance of a single molecular spin. Thus, Moerner’s work trail-blazed a path for the measurement of individual molecules, having broad implication in the investigation of proteins, enzymes, DNA and RNA, and defects in solids or complex materials. Furthermore, this path enables the achievement of super-resolution imaging at the molecular level and endows scientists with the possibility to control the nanoscopic regime and to build molecular- scale devices.
Professor Allen J. Bard’s contributions to fundamental science are remarkably broad and include invention of the scanning electrochemical microscope, now used worldwide in investigations of electro-catalytic mechanisms, in identification of cancerous cells, in mapping transport paths in the skin for trans-dermal drug delivery, and for lithographic patterning of surfaces. His efforts are largely responsible for the development of electrochemically generated electroluminescence reactions, and immunoassay commercial technology, used worldwide in medical diagnosis and research.
The new UK National Measurement System (NMS) Chemical and Biological Metrology website, www.nmschembio. org.uk is now online. It contains a wide range of information and material which will help laboratories ensure the quality, reliability and comparability of measurements.
- Comprehensive publications database with papers, books, reports, guides and more; Information on key topics such as mass spectrometry, method validation and measurement uncertainty;
- Training and education resources for schools, universities and laboratories;
- Events listing of relevant training courses and conferences worldwide;
- Access to help and expert advice on measurement topics;
- Projects section detailing work being carried out under the NMS Chemical and Biological Metrology programme.
Registration is required to gain access to free downloadable material such as the Laboratory Skills Training Handbook and the Best Practice Guide for Generating Mass Spectra. www.nmschembio.org.uk
A collaborative agreement between the European Commission (EC) Joint Research Centre's (JRC) Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM) and the USA's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was signed on 17 December 2007 with the aim of enhancing trade between the US and the EU, while helping ensure the safety and quality of goods sold in both markets. The agreement advances the development and availability of international measurement standards in chemistry, life sciences and emerging technologies.
Under the agreement, the JRC and NIST will work to better coordinate their research and development programmes in metrology. This will include collaborative research on new measurement methods and their quality assurance, including but not limited to cooperation in the preparation and value-assignment of certified reference materials. The JRC and NIST also plan to share resources and harmonise their respective regional and national responsibilities for chemical metrology, biometrology and international measurement standards.
A number of workshops and conferences are planned as part of this initiative, and the following topics have already been identified:
- Measurement methods and standards for hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (i.e. RoHs)
- Reference materials for the analysis of potentially dangerous polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
- New measurement methods, technologies and standards for biofuels, multiplex biological measurements and the health and environmental effects of engineered nanomaterials.
It has been thought that only plants can fix nitrogen: convert nitrogen from the air into compounds that can be made into protein. However, researchers at Ocean Genome Legacy in Ipswich, MA, USA, and Harvard Medical School, have used multi-isotope imaging mass spectrometry (MIMS) to show that shipworms (marine clams) can also perform this feat. They burrow into and eat wood, causing massive damage to ships and piers every year. Wood contains very little protein, but the shipworms rely on bacteria living symbiotically in their gills which can fix nitrogen.
MIMS was used to image directly and measure the nitrogen fixation by individual bacteria in host cells, using nitrogen enriched with 15N, and to demonstrate that the fixed nitrogen is used for metabolism by the shipworm.
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