Interview of the Month

Advancing Forensic Analyses with Raman Spectroscopy

In recent years, there have been significant advances in the application of vibrational spectroscopy to the analysis of forensic samples. Igor K. Lednev, a professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University at Albany, the State University of New York, has been developing the use of Raman spectroscopy for a variety of forensic applications, including the determining the age of blood stains and linking gunshot residues to specific ammunition–firearm combinations. He recently spoke to Spectroscopy about his work.

Quantum Mechanics

This series of installments from David Ball’s excellent “Baseline” column discusses the relevance of quantum mechanics for spectroscopy and why it is important for spectroscopists to know the basics.

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Detecting Blood on Fabrics: Infrared Diffuse Reflectance Versus Attenuated Total Reflectance FT-IR

By Spectroscopy Editors

In forensic science, the detection of blood on fabric is a very useful tool. Therefore, it is important that the methods used for detecting blood be as accurate as possible. Michael L. Myrick and Stephen L. Morgan, both professors in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of South Carolina, have been investigating the use of infrared (IR) spectroscopy for this purpose, including comparing the effectiveness of infrared diffuse reflectance versus attenuated total reflectance Fourier-transform IR (ATR FT-IR). They recently spoke to Spectroscopy about their recent studies and the critical questions they have been addressing in how IR spectroscopy is used in forensic science.

Solving Polymer Problems Using IR Spectroscopy

By Spectroscopy Editors

Naoto Nagai focuses on solving problems for industry. In this interview, he explains his research to determine the cause of resin cracks in polyoxymethylene mold plates using IR spectroscopy.

Tracking Microplastics in the Environment via FT-IR Microscopy

By Michael Bradley, Suja Sukumaran, Steven Lowry, Stephan Woods

Microplastics from clothing, abrasive action on plastics, or engineered microbeads as found in some exfoliating cosmetics are showing up in many environmental systems. FT-IR microscopy is a useful tool in the analysis of microplastics, providing visual information, particle counts, and particle identification.

Miniaturized MIR and NIR Sensors for Medicinal Plant Quality Control

By Christian W. Huck

This work shows that methods based on miniaturized near- and mid-infrared spectroscopy can be used effectively for the quality control of herbal medicines.

New Developments in 2D IR Advance Medical Research and Materials Analysis

By Spectroscopy Editors

Coherent two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy (2D IR) uses a series of IR femtosecond laser pulses to pump and then probe the response of a system, making it possible to learn much more about the structure and dynamics of molecules than can be seen with one-dimensional IR spectroscopy. The technique’s inventor, Martin T. Zanni of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, discussed 2D IR in a 2013 interview in Spectroscopy (1). Since 2013, Zanni has applied 2D IR spectroscopy to new systems and has started a company, PhaseTech Spectroscopy, Inc., to commercialize the technique.


In Situ Raman Spectroscopy Monitoring of the Reaction of Sulfur Trioxide with Polyethylene Fibers in Chlorinated Solvents

By Xiaoyun Chen, Jasson Patton, Bryan Barton, Jui-Ching Lin, Michael Behr, Zenon Lysenko

The apparent reaction kinetics between SO3 and polyethylene are investigated in various halogenated solvents using in situ Raman spectroscopy with an immersion Raman probe, demonstrating the power of in situ Raman spectroscopy to monitor hazardous reactions.

Carotenoids—Their Resonance Raman Spectra and How They Can Be Helpful in Characterizing a Number of Biological Systems

By Fran Adar

The resonance Raman spectra of carotenoids vary with subtle changes on the functional side groups, making these spectra useful for identifying and characterizing carotenoids.

1064-nm Raman: The Right Choice for Biological Samples?

By Shan Yang, Ozan Akkus, David Creasey

Interference from background fluorescence is a common challenge in Raman analysis. A study of three different types of biological samples was made to compare the ability of 785-nm and 1064-nm excitation to deal with this problem.

Establishing a Calibration Procedure for the Energy-Shift Axis in Diverse Raman Spectrometers

By M.R. Pollard, S. Duraipandian, R. Møller-Nilsen, L. Nielsen

A procedure was developed to calibrate the wavenumber (energy shift) axis in Raman spectrometers, and it was tested in both portable and laboratory-based instruments.

Rapid Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy Detection of Low-Dose APIs in Pharmaceutical Drugs

By Kristen Frano, Dawn Yang

A simple SERS-based method was used to identify low doses of the APIs alprazolam, codeine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone using a handheld Raman spectrometer.


Overview of High-Efficiency Transmission Gratings for Molecular Spectroscopy

By Thomas Rasmussen

This article provides a basic overview of the capabilities of transmission gratings optimized for molecular spectroscopy.

Scattering Impact Analysis and Correction for Leaf Biochemical Parameter Estimation Using Vis–NIR Spectroscopy

By Qianxuan Zhang, Qingbo Li, Guangjun Zhang

Simulated leaf spectral data were generated to analyze scattering impact and then compared to experimental data to validate the conclusions of the simulation.

An Integration of Modified Uninformative Variable Elimination and Wavelet Packet Transform for Variable Selection

By Di Wu, Xiaojing Chen, Yong He

The wavelet packet transform (WPT) combined with the modified uninformative variable elimination (MUVE) method (WPT–MUVE) is proposed to select variables for multivariate calibration of spectral data.

Analysis of Fructose, Glycine, and Triglycine Using HPLC UV-vis Detection and Evaporative Light-Scattering Detection

By A.B. de Haan, R. Wijntje, H.A.J.M. Bevers

The development of a method for the simultaneous determination of glycine, triglycine and fructose using UV–vis and evaporative light-scattering detection (ELSD) is described. This was necessary as part of a research project dealing with the recovery of functional peptides from aqueous streams on an industrial scale using adsorption or related technologies. Fructose is barely detectable by UV–vis as it lacks detectable functionalities, while glycine and triglycine are both UV–vis sensitive. An NH2 phase was chosen as a column and separation was obtained within seven minutes on a 250 X 4.6 mm column. Limits of detection are approximately 40 mg fructose/L, 4 mg glycine/L and 0.05 mg triglycine/L. Calibration functions are linear in a range of 40–1400 mg/L for fructose, 5–200 mg/L for glycine and 0.5–70 mg/L for triglycine.

Spectroscopy in Space: Hubble and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph

By Spectroscopy Editors

In an upcoming spacewalk, shuttle astronauts will swap the Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement (COSTAR) device for the new Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS).

Peer-Reviewed Articles

In Situ Raman Spectroscopy Monitoring of the Reaction of Sulfur Trioxide with Polyethylene Fibers in Chlorinated Solvents

By Xiaoyun Chen, Jasson Patton, Bryan Barton, Jui-Ching Lin, Michael Behr, Zenon Lysenko

The apparent reaction kinetics between SO3 and polyethylene are investigated in various halogenated solvents using in situ Raman spectroscopy with an immersion Raman probe, demonstrating the power of in situ Raman spectroscopy to monitor hazardous reactions.

Application of Wavelength-Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry to Biological Samples

By Vivek K. Singh, Pradeep K. Rai, Ashok K. Pathak, Durgesh K. Tripathi, Subhash C. Singh, Jagdish P. Singh

This review assesses the use of WD-XRF spectrometry for the analysis of major and trace levels of heavy and toxic minerals in biological specimens related to agricultural crops and human diseases.

Determination of Elemental Impurities in Antacids by ICP-MS According to the Validation Protocols Defined in USP Chapters <232> and <233> and ICH Q3D Step 4 Guidelines

By Aaron Hineman

Antacids present a unique set of analytical challenges for ICP-MS. These challenges can be overcome with optimized sample preparation and instrumental analytical conditions.

Rapid Enantiodifferentation of Chiral Organophosphorus Compounds by 31P NMR Spectroscopy in the Presence of α-Cyclodextrin as the Chiral Solvating Agent

By Natalia Kmiecik, Monika Serafin, Tomasz K. Olszewski, Ewa Zymanczyk-Duda

This method, for the evaluation of the enantiomeric purity of particular phosphonate derivatives, offers advantages in terms of cost, simplicity, and measurement speed.

A Priori Performance Estimation of Spatial Filtering in Raman Backscattering Experiments

By Johannes Kiefer, Julia Rüger, Florian M. Zehentbauer

A straightforward numerical approach to estimate the performance of a spatial filter in Raman backscattering spectroscopy has been developed. This approach enabled the authors to determine an optimal hole diameter that balances spatial resolution and signal intensity.


Spectroscopy Announces the Winner of the 2018 Emerging Leader in Atomic Spectroscopy Award

John M. Cottle, a professor of earth science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has won the 2018 Emerging Leader in Atomic Spectroscopy Award, which is presented by Spectroscopy magazine.

Highest-Resolution Scan Ever Done of a Large Tyrannosaur Skull

Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico, used the laboratory’s unique neutron-imaging and high-energy X-ray capabilities to expose the inner structures of the fossil skull of a 74-million-year-old tyrannosauroid dinosaur nicknamed “Bisti Beast.”

New York Section of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy Announces Speakers for Fall 2017 Meetings

The New York Section of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy (NYSAS) has announced its initial lineup of speakers for its fall 2017 meetings.

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Investigating Nanoparticles in the Environment with SP-ICP-MS

By Spectroscopy Editors

There is growing concern about the unknown effects that nanoparticles may have on the environment, especially in drinking water and plants. Single-particle inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (SP-ICP-MS) is emerging as a useful technique for analyzing nanoparticles and their presence in environmental and biological systems. Honglan Shi, a chemistry professor at Missouri University of Science and Technology, and her research group have been using SP-ICP-MS to investigate nanoparticles in drinking water and plant uptake. She recently spoke to Spectroscopy about this work.

Accurate Measurement of Ultrafine Silica Nanoparticles Using ICP-MS/MS

By Ed McCurdy, Michiko Yamanaka, Steve Wilbur

A method to measure ultrafine silica nanoparticles using ICP-MS/MS to control the elemental and polyatomic ion backgrounds is described here.

Optimized ICP-MS Analysis of Elemental Impurities in Semiconductor-Grade Hydrochloric Acid

By Ken Neubauer, Ewa Pruszkowski

A closer look at the use of a cell-based ICP-MS approach that utilizes ion–molecule chemistry to reduce many of the traditional spectral interferences seen in the analysis of high-purity hydrochloric acid used in manufacturing integrated circuits and semiconductor devices

ICP-MS Analysis of Multiple Trace Elements in Industrial Cell Lines

By Wei Hong, Ilyas Holmes, Todd Stone, Robert Henry, Victor Vinci, Yunsong Li

This article demonstrates that a dilute-and-shoot method combined with quadrupole ICP-MS is suitable to accurately analyze trace elements in two industrial cell lines using low sample volumes.

Single-Particle ICP-MS: A Key Analytical Technique for Characterizing Nanoparticles

By Chady Stephan, Robert Thomas

The single-particle analytical technique can quantitate the difference between ionic and particulate signals, measure the particle concentration (particles per milliliter), and determine the particle size, size distribution, particle agglomeration, and dissolution. As a result, ICP-MS is a key analytical technique in assessing the fate, behavior, and distribution of nanomaterials in the environment.

Mass Spectrometry

Review of the 65th Conference on Mass Spectrometry and Allied Topics

By Cindy Delonas

We present a brief review of this year’s ASMS conference, which took place June 4–8 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Quantitative Drug Metabolite Profiling without Radiolabels Using HPLC–ICP-MS

By Spectroscopy Editors

In drug development, quantitative determination of a candidate drug and its metabolites in biofluids is an important step. The standard technique for quantitative metabolite profiling is radiolabeling followed by HPLC with radiodetection, but there are disadvantages to this approach, including cost and time, as well as safety and ethical concerns related to administering radiolabeled compounds to humans. Frank Vanhaecke and his research group at Ghent University have been developing an alternative technique, and he recently spoke to us about this work.

Ion Mobility Spectrometers as Chromatographic Detectors

By Zygfryd Witkiewicz, Urszula Gaik, Edyta Budzyńska, Mirosław Maziejuk, Jarosław Puton

Interest in connecting ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) to GC and especially to LC is now growing. One favorable property of IMS is that it can work with ambient pressure and can be easily connected to a gas or liquid chromatograph. Analytical applications of GC–MS and LC–MS are very different and encompass investigations into food, medical science, environment, drugs of abuse, chemical warfare agents, and explosives.

Determination of Very Low Abundance Diagnostic Proteins in Serum Using Immunocapture LC–MS/MS

By Léon Reubsaet, Trine Grønhaug Halvorsen

There is growing interest in the determination of endogenous proteins in biological samples for diagnostic purposes, because a concentration increase or decrease of such proteins can allows us to monitor the state of a pathological condition such as cancer. Immunocapture LC–MS/MS analysis combines the workflow of conventional immunological assays with LC–MS analysis. This article describes typical challenges, such as cross reactivity and the mass spectrometer’s dynamic range, as well as the advantages of isoform differentiation and multiplexing.

Detection and Characterization of Extractables in Food Packaging Materials by GC–MS

By Elizabeth M. Humston-Fulmer, Joe Binkley

In this study, general extract screening of food storage materials was done with nontargeted analytical methods to understand what analytes could potentially leach into food or beverages. GC and mass spectral deconvolution effectively separated analytes within the complex mixture and TOF-MS provided full mass range spectral data for identification. This workflow can be used for confident characterization of components present as extractables from food packaging materials.

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