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What’s New in Spectroscopy?

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Neutron spec and roll. Molecule movement is essential to effectively design nano devices. And that’s why a team of scientists from the University of Surrey and the Graz University of Technology, Switzerland, employed neutron spectroscopy to monitor and record how triphenylphosphine (PPh3) – a nanomolecule used for various applications, drug delivery and even lithium battery – behaves. With the help of computational simulations, the researchers found that “PPh3 rolls over the surface with an almost negligible activation energy for rotations and motion of the phenyl groups and a comparably small activation energy for translation.” The findings provide a foundation to develop prediction models for chemical reactions and thus energy consumption – two factors that can contribute to improved nanotechnologies. 

Speedy and mini. A team has described a Raman-based sensor enhanced with flexible gold nanogaps that enables “high speed biomedical sensing.” The researchers – from Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) and Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), both in Korea – have engineered their Raman spectroscopy sensor with a one-dimension nanogold structure to analyze molecular fingerprints of various molecules and especially viruses. “This not only advances basic scientific research in identifying unique properties of materials from molecules to viruses but also facilitates practical applications, enabling rapid detection of a broad spectrum of emerging viruses using a single, tailored sensor,” said primary author Taeyoung Moon in a press release.

Ultrafast spec in real-time – for the first time. Ultrafast spectroscopy allows scientists to investigate the temporal evolution of molecular and material properties following excitation with a laser pulse – and is used in many scientific and industrial applications. However, real-time measurements have largely eluded researchers because of the extensive data recording required across the high bandwidth spectrum for each pixel. Enter researchers from Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light. Collaborating with partners in Germany and France, Kilian Scheffter and colleagues successfully employed acoustic waves to expand, for the first time, compressed sensing to real-time spectroscopic measurement. The authors believe their research will “pave the path toward real-time field-resolved fingerprinting and acceleration of advanced spectroscopic techniques.”

Under pressure. A new NMR-based method can exert a pressure of 3,000 bar on proteins, inducing structural features that cannot be observed under normal conditions. Frederic Berner and Michael Kovermann from the University of Konstanz applied the ultra-high pressure – roughly three times the water pressure at the deepest point of the ocean – to the cold shock protein B of Bacillus subtilis to understand more about its structure. "What is important for proteins is their structure, which in turn is linked to functionalities. If you want to identify biochemical mechanisms, you need information about their structure," said Berner in a press release

Also in the news…

NMR-based analysis demonstrates beneficial neuroprotective properties of cannabidiol – revealing new therapeutic targets for Alzeheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders. Link 

Researchers design a 3D nanocluster infused triple interpenetrating polymer network (IPN) hydrogel for the detection of water microplastics with fluorescence spectroscopy. Link 

Toshihiro Takamatsu and colleagues develop a nanometer hyperspectral imaging system for tissue imaging – with over 99 percent accuracy and specificity. Link 

Scientists from Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light improve the speed of laser spectroscopy with a new approach called compressed sensing. Link 

Researchers combine oxygen-anion chemical ionization MS, electrochemistry, spectroscopy, and quantum chemistry to discover how ozone is generated on Ni/Sb-SnOelectrocatalysts, which could lead to more sustainable water disinfection treatments. Link

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About the Author
Markella Loi

Associate Editor, The Analytical Scientist

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