Miniaturization of analytical instruments of various forms of spectroscopy has improved dramatically in recent years mainly because of the requirements in certain areas such as space, industrial, and environmental research. Research into miniaturization is primarily driven by the need to reduce the instrumental space and costs by reducing the consumption of expensive reagents and by increasing throughput and automation. Like other fields, analytical systems have also been affected by novel ideas and unprecedented advances in the microelectronics leading to miniaturization of different components in recent years. This article presents an overview of the current developments in the miniaturization of analytical instruments for mainly detecting metals at extremely low concentration levels, with some important examples from areas such as space, mineral exploration, the environment, and pharmaceuticals, focusing primarily on advancements as well as the challenges that have impacted from some of the major international manufacturers.

October’s AP column highlights a team of geochemists at the University of Houston who have been developing methods to streamline multi-element analysis for a more complete fingerprinting of oils by using one sample preparation method utilizing a single reaction chamber microwave digestion system and then analyzing these solutions for major, and minor elements by ICP-OES and low abundance trace elements by triple quadrupole (QQQ) ICP-MS. Results to date using this approach have shown that complete elemental recovery and removal of organic matrices can be achieved safely and that up to 57 elements can be determined in oils with good accuracy and precision. Removal of organic matrices during digestion not only helps to limit the formation of polyatomic spectral interferences, but improves instrument stability and reduces carbon build in the sample introduction and interface regions, which have traditionally plagued “dilute and shoot” methods.

The accurate determination of protein structure is integral to the medical and pharmaceutical communities’ ability to understand disease, and develop drugs. Current techniques (CD, IR, Raman) for protein structure prediction provide results that can be poorly resolved, while high resolution techniques (NMR, X-ray crystallography) can be both costly and time-consuming. This work proposes the use of drop coat deposition confocal Raman spectroscopy (DCDCR), coupled with peak fitting of the Amide I spectral region (1620–1720 cm-1) for the accurate determination of protein secondary structure. Studies conducted on BSA and ovalbumin show that the predictions of secondary structure content within 1% of representative crystal structure data is possible for model proteins. The results clearly demonstrate that DCDCR has the potential to be effectively used to obtain accurate secondary structure distributions for proteins.


Infrared reflectance and absorption spectroscopy have been practiced for decades. New capabilities in detectors and light sources are quickly changing the landscape in the near- and mid-infrared, where fundamental vibrations and overtone bands allow sensitive measurements in applications related to food safety, precision agriculture, energy, and smart manufacturing, to name a few.  This article outlines some of the most recent innovations and how they might be applied in real-world systems.

Issue PDF

October 01, 2016

Click the title above to open the Spectroscopy October 2016 regular issue, Vol 31 No 10, in an interactive PDF format.