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Techniques & Tools Spectroscopy, Chemical, Clinical, Environmental

What’s New in Spectroscopy?

LEGO to the rescue. Fluorescence interference in Raman spectroscopy is a well-known problem and is especially significant in portable instruments. Raman instrument manufacturers often deploy fluorescence avoidance and/or mitigation methods, but there is no standard method for evaluating the accuracy and repeatability of these schemes. Richard Crocombe and colleagues have come up with a surprising solution: LEGO blocks. “They have the attractive properties of being very low cost, rugged, non-toxic, easy to transport and store, and appear to be manufactured using a standard process,” wrote the authors. In the paper, the researchers show the Raman spectra of a set of these blocks at different excitation wavelengths, acquired on laboratory instruments, along with their visible–near-infrared spectra.

What’s the stress? An imbalance between gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate – two opposing neurotransmitters – could be the key to more effective treatments for anxiety. Employing magnetic resonance spectroscopy, Nicola Johnstone and Kathrin Cohen Kadosh from the University of Surrey, UK, assessed how the two neurochemicals change in accordance to anxiety levels in females aged between 10-11 and 18-25; discovering that GABA increased while glutamate decreased in an age-related manner, positively correlating to increased anxiety levels. “This study shines a light on the possibility of focusing on these brain chemicals for new treatments, particularly in young women,” said Kadosh in a press release.

A world first. Researchers have developed the world’s first broadband UV dual-comb spectrometer, which they are using to continually measure air pollutants and observe their reaction with the environment in real time. The team, led by Birgitta Schultze-Bernhardt from the Institute of Experimental Physics at Graz University of Technology, demonstrated the proof of concept by testing formaldehyde. “With our new spectrometer, formaldehyde emissions in the textile or wood processing industries as well as in cities with increased smog levels can be monitored in real time, thus improving the protection of personnel and the environment,” said Schultze-Bernhardt in a press release.

Major (micro) pollution. (Micro)plastic pollution of oceans may be expanding more rapidly, following the discovery of microplastics in a remote marine protected area. The scientists from Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig, Germany, employed Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) to analyze samples. Plastic particles from each sample were sorted by size and counted and analyzed using a “special form” of infrared spectroscopy. The findings of the study showcase a “widespread distribution and elevated concentrations of plastic items in the middle of the ocean, far from human activities” – urging for more efficient management of (micro)plastic pollution.

In Other News…

Infrared spectroscopy analysis of Antarctica water samples finds higher microplastic concentrations compared with previous studies, emphasizing the need to analyze small microplastics (≤ 11 μm). Link

Researchers develop a chemometric method based on multivariate curve resolution-alternative least squares (MCR-ALS) coupled with the infrared spectra of single-cultivar purees to drive the formulation of apple purees. Link 

Pulse current charging substantially enhances the cycle stability of commercial lithium-ion batteries, according to operando and ex situ Raman and X-ray absorption spectroscopy analysis. Link

Researchers present centimeter-scale miniaturization of a Raman spectrometer – using cheap non-stabilized laser diodes, densely packed optics, and non-cooled small sensors – which performs comparably to bulky Raman systems. Link

Researchers combine surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) with theoretical modeling to discover two new mechanisms to fine-tune electrochemical reactions. Link

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About the Author
Markella Loi

Associate Editor, The Analytical Scientist

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