Best of the Week: Unveiling the Giants, Malaria Vectors, Combating Spice Fraud

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This week, Spectroscopy magazine published stories about how mid-infrared spectroscopy is being used to study gas giants in our solar system and malaria vectors, among others.

This week, Spectroscopy published a variety of articles on the hottest topics in analytical spectroscopy and beyond, including a peer-reviewed article. These articles cover various industries and a wide range of spectroscopic techniques. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the most popular articles, according to our readers and subscribers. Happy reading!

Unveiling the Giants: Mid-Infrared Observations of the Solar System's Largest Planets

This article reviews the significant progress in studying the giant planets—Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune—through mid-infrared (mid-IR) spectroscopy, highlighting over a century of advancements. Authored by Michael T. Roman, it emphasizes the role of mid-IR observations in revealing atmospheric details, such as temperature and chemical composition (1). The review discusses technological advancements in telescopes and detectors, particularly ground-based observatories and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) (1). The JWST’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) is expected to provide unprecedented insights, particularly into Uranus and Neptune, revolutionizing our understanding of these distant planetary atmospheres (1).

Using Mid-Infrared Spectroscopy and Machine Learning to Assess Malaria Vectors

This article discusses a recent study published in Malaria Journal that examines the use of mid-infrared (mid-IR) spectroscopy combined with machine learning to quickly assess the blood-feeding histories of Anopheles mosquitoes, the primary vectors of malaria. Conducted by researchers from the Ifakara Health Institute and the University of Glasgow, the study demonstrated the effectiveness of this method, achieving 88–90% accuracy in identifying blood meal sources (2). This new technique offers a faster, more cost-effective alternative to traditional methods, enhancing malaria vector surveillance and potentially improving malaria control efforts in affected regions (2).

Combating Spice Fraud Using Near-Infrared Spectroscopy

The global spice industry is a profitable industry. Spices are produced and traded worldwide, from small plots to large farms (3). Because these spices pass through multiple stages in the supply chain, there is an increased risk of fraud and contamination (3). A recent study out of Alexandria University explores how near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy can combat the illegal spice trade by verifying spice authenticity.

Barbie Dolls Under the Microscope and FT-IR ATR: Unveiling the Secrets of Iconic Toy Degradation

This article discusses a study on the material composition and degradation processes of Barbie dolls made between 1959 and 1976. Conducted by Italian researchers and published in Polymers, the study used a multi-analytical approach, including FT-IR ATR spectroscopy, to analyze 15 dolls. Initially made from plasticized PVC, early Barbies suffered from additive migration leading to surface tackiness. By the 1970s, more stable polymers like EVA and ABS were used (4). The findings reveal significant degradation issues, highlighting the need for innovative preservation strategies to maintain these cultural icons for future generations (4).

New TDLAS-Based System Made for Characterizing Gaseous Species

This article discusses a study by scientists from the Technical University of Darmstadt and the University of Waterloo on a new system for characterizing gaseous species distribution during combustion. Published in Scientific Reports, the study combines time-of-flight LiDAR with tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy (TDLAS) to scan gas molecular transition lines, offering high spatial resolution with minimal optical access (5). The approach, suitable for environments like solid fuel combustion, uses inexpensive tunable diode lasers and promises advancements in measuring gas properties in particle-laden flows (5). Future research will focus on optimizing the system for practical applications and conducting experimental proof-of-concept studies (5).

References

(1) Workman, Jr., J. Unveiling the Giants: Mid-Infrared Observations of the Solar System's Largest Planets. Spectroscopy. Available at: https://www.spectroscopyonline.com/view/unveiling-the-giants-mid-infrared-observations-of-the-solar-system-s-largest-planets (accessed 2024-06-05).

(2) Wetzel, W. Using Mid-Infrared Spectroscopy and Machine Learning to Assess Malaria Vectors. Spectroscopy. Available at: https://www.spectroscopyonline.com/view/using-mid-infrared-spectroscopy-and-machine-learning-to-assess-malaria-vectors (accessed 2024-06-05).

(3) Wetzel, W. Combating Spice Fraud Using Near-Infrared Spectroscopy. Spectroscopy. Available at: https://www.spectroscopyonline.com/view/combating-spice-fraud-using-near-infrared-spectroscopy (accessed 2024-06-05).

(4) Workman Jr., J. Barbie Dolls Under the Microscope and FT-IR ATR: Unveiling the Secrets of Iconic Toy Degradation. Spectroscopy. Available at: https://www.spectroscopyonline.com/view/barbie-dolls-under-the-microscope-and-ft-ir-atr-unveiling-the-secrets-of-iconic-toy-degradation (accessed 2024-06-05).

(5) Acevedo, A. New TDLAS-Based System Made for Characterizing Gaseous Species. Spectroscopy. Available at: https://www.spectroscopyonline.com/view/new-tdlas-based-system-made-for-characterizing-gaseous-species (accessed 2024-06-05).

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