Mid-infrared spectroscopic imaging is a rapidly emerging technique in biomedical research and clinical diagnostics that takes advantage of the unique molecular fingerprint of cells, tissue and biofluids to provide a rich biochemical image without the need for staining. Spectroscopic analysis allows for the objective classification of biological material at a molecular level.1 This “label free” molecular imaging technique has been applied to histology, cytology, surgical pathology, microbiology and stem cell research, and can be used to detect subtle changes to the genome, proteome and metabolome.2–4
Another area of application of XRF, “Determination of elemental distribution or heterogeneity by X-ray fluorescence”, is considered by Christopher Shaffer and Didier Bonvin. The ability of modern X-ray spectrometers to perform small spot analysis as well as mapping has opened up new applications in non-homogeneous samples. The authors show applications in metals, precious alloys as well as rocks.
Knowledge about the particles in the air is important because of their effect on our health and their impact on our climate through cloud formation and transport of nutrients into the oceans. Ursula Fittschen describes “Strategies for ambient aerosols characterisation using synchrotron X-ray fluorescence: a review”. This technique can provide elemental determination and speciation of aerosol particulates with limits of detection in the pg m–3 range for many elements.
The analysis of turbid samples is increasingly important, not least due to their widespread occurrence in natural samples. Dmitry Khoptyar, Sören Johansson, Staffan Strömblad and Stefan Andersson-Engels show “Broadband photon time-of-flight spectroscopy as a prospective tool in biomedicine and industrial process and quality control”. The authors describe their recent development of a broadband spectrometer for evaluation of absorption and scattering spectra of very diverse turbid materials in the visible and close-near infrared (NIR) regions and its application with milk, cheese and paper samples.
It is important that places of archaeological and architectural importance need to be explored without damage. Atomic Dielectric Resonance (ADR) can be used for identifying sub-surface geological features. This technology1 uses a novel coherent beam, which has been used in the oil, gas and water industries, to provide information on what lies beneath the earth’s surface, without the need to drill cores.
“Spectral database for postage stamps by means of FT-IR spectroscopy” by Eleonora Imperio, Gabriele Giancane and Ludovico Valli will be of great interest. As well as helping to detect forgeries, FT-IR has been used to create a database which also charts the history of the technology used to create stamps. Quite rightly, they are considered by many to be works of art.
“Emerging sampling approaches for Raman analysis of foods” by Nils Kristian Afseth, Matthew Bloomfield, Jens Petter Wold and Pavel Matousek describes how a number of instrumental developments are enabling Raman spectroscopy to find increasing applications in food analysis. They show how Spatially Offset Raman Spectroscopy (SORS) is being used to analyse quality parameters in salmon, including the content of fat, its fat composition and the content of carotenoids. Traditionally, the preserve of NIR spectroscopy, Raman may increasingly be used for the analysis of food and other biological matrices.
“Membrane inlet mass spectrometry for in situ environmental monitoring” by Simon Maher, Fred Jjunju, Iain Young, Boris Brkic and Stephen Taylor looks at a technique that is 50 years old but is now being applied for field analysis. As well as a brief overview of the technique, they show how it can be used to monitor oil-in-water levels before discharge from oil termini.
Malvina G. Orkoulaa and Christos G. Kontoyannisa,b
aDepartment of Pharmacy, University of Patras, Rio-Patras, Greece. E-mail: [email protected]
bICE-HT/FORTH, PO Box 1414, University Campus, Rio-Patras, Greece
The authors give us a “Review of nanoscale infrared spectroscopy applications to energy related materials”. Fuel cells, photovoltaics and specialised polymers for fracking are all considered.
Mathieu Duval raises the question “Dating fossil teeth by electron paramagnetic resonance: how is that possible?”. Whilst we are all familiar with 14C dating, the use of EPR is less well known. In fact, there are less than 10 laboratories in the world able to carry out EPR dating of fossil teeth!
“From lake ecology to biofuels—applications of Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy to algal research” is the topic of Andrew Dean, Jon Pittman and David Sigee. Algae are essential for our continued live on Earth, and FT-IR spectroscopy can increase our understanding of their physiology and biotech potential.
Sotiris Stasinos and Ioannis Zabetakis have used ICP-MS to investigate the cross-contamination of food crops by heavy metals in ground or irrigation water. They show that this can occur easily in certain crops, which has serious health consequences for those consuming the food crop. As a consequence of their work, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has been informed about the accumulation of Cr and Ni in food tubers and is taking action.
This article describes an application of spectral imaging for the differentiation of tumour and normal cells. The authors also introduce the concept of a spectral barcode, which has had success with some tissues and has potential in others.
With continuing food scares around the world, food producers need every tool they can get to prevent contamination of their products at every stage of production. Hyperspectral reflectance imaging in the NIR combined with chemometrics shows much promise for the detection and identification of foreign bodies among food grains.
The single cell Raman spectrum (SCRS) enables cell probing and sorting to study phenotypes and ecophysiology of single cells and explore individual cells in situ in a label-free and non-destructive manner.
In resonance Raman scattering (RRS), the amount of structural and chemical information deduced can be increased by analysing the polarisation of the inelastically scattered light, including the degree of molecular aggregation in bio-molecules in their natural environment.
There are a number of approaches, and by combining FT-IR imaging methodology with microfluidics devices, the opportunity to study live cells by FT-IR imaging in controlled environments is now possible.
This article explains the challenges in pesticide residue analysis of samples associated with suspected poisoning incident investigations, including the wide range of specimens and pesticides that need to be considered.
Thiabendazole (TBZ) is a chemical fungicide and parasiticide used to prevent mould, blight and other diseases resulting from long transportation and storage, largely used as an ingredient in waxes applied to the skins of citrus fruits. The authors describe their work using near infrared-surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy and conventional Ag nanoparticles, which showed that TBZ was found both on organic fruit and at levels higher than regulations allow.