Informing Spectroscopists for Over 40 Years


Nanomaterials find widespread applications in many fields of science and nanotechnology, especially as catalysts in the chemical, bio-nanotechnology, nano-electronics and pharmaceutical industries. Understanding the physical and chemical properties of nanoscale materials is important, not only because of the fascinating nature of the subject, but also due to their potential applicability in almost every branch of science and technology. Nanostructured materials offer interesting properties, because at the atomic or molecular scale, the physical properties of a material become size dependent due to the quantum confinement and surface states effects.

 Illustration of a thin film solar cell based on a CIGS [Cu(In,Ga)Se2] absorber layer

In this article the question of the certification of calibration samples for the characterisation of advanced thin film materials is addressed within the framework of reliable process control or quality management purposes. Reference measurement techniques can be used in order to address the gap in appropriate certified reference materials (CRMs) for thin film analyses. They allow for qualifying out-of-production samples originating from an operating production line as calibration samples. As a template for this procedure, CIGS [Cu(In,Ga)Se2] layers, that are absorber layers for high efficiency thin-film solar cells, have been used for establishing and validating reference-free X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis and Auger-electron spectroscopy (AES) as reference measurement techniques.

Different spectroscopic techniques have been combined to provide additional and complementary information for decades. Increasingly, this is being expanded beyond just two techniques and may include spatial/imaging information as well. All of which bring their own challenges. In “Multimodal imaging of cells and tissues: all photons are welcome”, David Perez-Guaita, Kamila Kochana Anja Rüther, Phillip Heraud, Guillermo Quintas and Bayden Wood report an example of these new approaches. They look at the use of infrared, Raman and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopies to obtain combined imaging data of whole algal cells and discuss how to overcome the challenges.

Dmitry Gakamsky and Anna Gakamsky describe how fluorescence may be used to diagnose cataracts in human eye lenses. Further, it may also be able to grade cataracts and monitor the disease’s progress, which may help discover metabolic and ambient factors that influence the progress of the disease.

Edible bird’s nest (EBN) is a highly valued food, especially in China. Due to this, there is the potential to bulk out the EBN with artificial additives to receive a higher price. This article shows yet another way in which spectroscopy is used to detect adulteration of food and prevent fraud in a quick and cost-­effective manner.

Vince Palleschi takes a slightly different approach to reviewing the current state of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS). He puts the strengths and weaknesses of LIBS in context and gives some examples of industrial applications.

We all know how spectroscopy and other analytical technologies have played important roles in detecting fraud and in authentication. Paper collages, or photomontages, are part of the art market that is seeing much interest amongst collectors. It is difficult to detect forgeries just through expertise. The use of NIR imaging offers a number of ways to identify forgeries or authenticate the collage non-destructively; from determining the glue used to the revealing of printing on the back of the pieces or paper, which often have been taken from books and magazines.

Jars of honey

X-ray spectroscopy techniques have some advantages over other atomic spectroscopy techniques in the analysis of foods, for instance in not requiring significant sample preparation. Amongst these, TXRF has higher sensitivity and limits of detection in the ng range. The authors look at the analysis of a number of very different foods, including seafood, honey and vegetables.

This article demonstrates the capability of the near-field method to probe polymer microspheres within a protein matrix, and we present the first IRSR photothermal near-field Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectrum from within an individual biological cell, which establishes the feasibility of hyperspectral mapping at sub-micrometre resolution in a practical timescale.

The CAL(AI)2DOSCOPE (Cryogenic Absorption/Luminescence Alignment Independent Alternative Intermittent Detection Optical µSCOPE) is a microspectrometer that was constructed with the aim to facilitate the correlated investigation of absorption and fluorescence emission properties of nanovolumic protein samples under modulatable actinic illumination.