Informing Spectroscopists for Over 40 Years

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Doping control authorities and sports drug testing laboratories are frequently confronted with the illicit use of performance-enhancing therapeutics and therefore various analytical strategies have been developed to detect a misused drug and/or its metabolic product(s) in blood or urine specimens. Besides the administration of clinically approved drugs prohibited in sports, new drug candidates currently undergoing early or advanced clinical trials have also been the subject of investigations concerning their prevalence and abuse by athletes.

Issue 22/4 (2010)

Non-destructive, high resolution, sediment core scanners incorporating X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry are now widely used by sub-disciplines in the earth and environmental sciences and have revolutionised the analysis of sediment cores. These powerful instruments allow the cores to be analysed rapidly with virtually no sample preparation. They can record along-core variations for many elements in the Periodic Table from Al to U and detection limits down to a few ppm can be achieved in favourable conditions depending on the acquisition dwell time.

Issue 22/3 (2010)

The problem of detecting, recognising and identifying explosives at significant standoff distances has proved one of the most difficult—and most important—challenges during recent years, being today, one of the most demanding applications of spectroscopic techniques. The limited number of sophisticated available techniques potentially capable of standoff detection of minimal amounts of explosives is based on laser spectroscopy. Of the recently developed techniques, Raman spectroscopy and laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) are considered significant for their potential for homeland defence applications.

Issue 22/3 (2010)

Here, we focus on new trends in Raman spectroscopy to improve in vivo diagnosis. The use of Raman spectroscopy for real-time diagnosis of medical disease without the need for biopsy is among the most exciting and clinically relevant applications; four recent reports are presented. First, an approach to reduce fluorescent background of lung tissue in combination with a biomedical filtered Raman fibre optic probe was introduced in 2009 by Magee et al. Second, a fibre optic probe was developed for the CARS variant of Raman spectroscopy. Third, functional metal nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes were applied to a small animal model to collect Raman spectra non-invasively utilising the surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) effect. Finally, spatially offset Raman spectroscopy (SORS) has been presented as another non-invasive Raman-based method to probe deep bone subcutaneously in an animal model.

Issue 22/3 (2010)

For the past two centuries, the nature of the varnishes coating historical instruments has been a much debated subject. Focusing in particular on the varnishes used for coating violins made by the Italian instrument-maker Antonio Stradivari, numerous hypotheses have been raised by instrument-makers, experts, musicians and chemists, without reaching a general understanding of the ancient varnishing techniques. A few years ago, we decided to work on this topic using several complementary approaches for materials characterisation and study of historical sources (ancient varnish recipes, etc.).

Issue 22/2 (2010)

This year the International Barcode of Life initiative (IBoL) plans to begin an ambitious programme to barcode the DNA of more than five million specimens representing at least 500,000 species in five years. Molecular barcodes exploit the fact that molecular sequences offer an independent method to identify a sample. Such molecular barcodes have widespread application in systematics, biodiversity, forensics and even food science. Molecular barcodes tend to be based upon DNA, which with the advent of new technologies offers a fast and efficient means of identification. Proteins too have been used in the past for molecular identification, most commonly exploiting the exquisite specificity of antibodies to discriminate targeted proteins. Recently the idea of using protein mass spectrometry to fingerprint samples has been used to target samples in which processing or decay has destroyed the DNA.

Issue 22/2 (2010)

The growing use of Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy as a tool for quality checking amongst other things foodstuffs, industrial products and pharmaceuticals begs the question of how this technology could be applied to quantifying aspects of the internal environment of living organisms. To do this requires knowledge of the types of exudates and secretions that organisms produce. Usefully, all organisms do this and, as such, the potential to look into the internal environment of living organisms is now being realised. My particular interest is in molluscan mucus as a measure of both species identification and ­environmental monitoring. This interest has led onto considerations of how monitoring of mucus could be used in other organisms, particularly humans. This article hopes to provide a brief current overview of the use of FT-IR spectroscopy in the investigation of mucus from a variety of organisms.

Issue 22/1 (2010)

The intense development of industrial and urban areas in the absence of accurate measures to control pollution sources is often the cause of several environmental problems: dispersed and undetected chemical waste problems, in particular trace elements such as heavy metals, may cause freshwater, soil and water-table contamination. Such events are rarely detectable by sporadic analyses on water samples, since trace element concentrations are often below the instrumental detection limits and/or quickly change in space and time.

Issue 22/1 (2010)

In urban environments, where the majority of the human population lives, air pollution is a major threat to human health. In many countries and regions of the world, this has led to the implementation of regulations to control the emissions of air pollutants and limits for the allowed concentrations of different types of air pollutants. The limits are set at levels at which harm to the health may occur if the limits are exceeded. One of these pollutants is aerosol particles. In most cases, the environmental quality standards limit is set to a certain mass concentration of particles of a certain size.

Issue 21/6 (2009)

Often, chemists are interested in the most efficient way of converting our starting materials into the desired product. A huge number of reactions proceed via the production of intermediate species which are usually short-lived and difficult to detect. Such intermediates are considered to be of great importance because it is their reactivity which can determine the outcome of a reaction and, hence, the efficiency with which the final product is made. This can have widespread importance across the whole of chemistry, ranging from ­pharmaceutical and organic synthesis to catalysis and materials chemistry.

Issue 21/6 (2009)

An NMR tour of Mediterranean anise-flavoured alcoholic beverages.

Issue 21/5 (2009)

The enormous variability in the concentration of plant toxins and nutrients in trees, shrubs and forbs requires extensive sampling to accurately represent the nutritional and toxicological landscape and this is an ideal application for quantitative near infrared (NIR) reflectance spectroscopy. The speed of NIR spectroscopy analysis makes it ideally suited to environmental monitoring and ecological investigations where large numbers of replicates need to be measured. Several recent studies, including one focused on underwater plants on the Great Barrier Reef and the second in Bolivian rainforests, show the power of NIR spectroscopy to address large-scale variability in plant–animal interactions.

Issue 21/5 (2009)

This article highlights the versatility of the developed methodology for the measurement of arsenic species in a range of materials from Devon Great Consols (DGC), one of many former mining sites in the south- west of England.

Issue 21/4 (2009)

The purpose of this article is to give a comparative description of two methods applying ion-beam sputtering in materials research: secondary ion and neutral mass spectrometries (SIMS and SNMS). We shall illustrate the application of the latter by reports on a compositional analysis of perovskite oxides and on an investigation of nanoscaled multilayer structures.

Issue 21/4 (2009)

This article shows that MALDI high resolution mass spectrometry demonstrated directly that Hev b 6 and Hev b 1, and also truncated forms thereof, are present on the inner surface of medical NRL gloves. The speed and high accuracy of the applied method and instrumentation makes the detection of surface associated proteins feasible without any prior protein extraction procedure (in situ localisation).

Issue 21/4 (2009)

Spectroscopy plays a vital role in the forensic scientist’s task to analyse crime scene evidence. A new and emerging technique within the forensic field is X-ray fluorescence (XRF) microscopy.

Issue 21/3 (2009)

This article outlines the use of the DOSY NMR method applied to drug analysis and screening for counterfeit drugs or fake herbal medicines

Issue 21/3 (2009)

Interest in Raman spectroscopy as an analytical technique that can be applied in a wide variety of fields continues to increase. The main reason for this interest is that no special sample preparation is required. However, the Raman signal is typically very weak, with only one in every 106–108 photons being scattered. This has driven the development of several enhancement techniques, e.g. Resonance Raman (RR), Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) and Surface Enhanced Resonance Raman Spectroscopy (SERRS), which can be used for dilute samples.

Issue 21/3 (2009)

This short review shows that UV/visible spectroscopy plays a key role in the discrimination of colour in the forensic analysis of fibres and inks. The application of chemometrics, however, is vital in many cases to enhance such discrimination and to put it on a quantitative basis so providing objective justification for the conclusions of the analyst.

Issue 21/2 (2009)

In 2007 we introduced our method in Spectroscopy Europe describing the identification of furs by hair digest based matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation time of flight (MALDI-ToF) mass spectrometry (MS). This so-called SIAM (Species Identification of Animals) method can also be used for the species determination of ancient furs.

Issue 21/2 (2009)

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