For the past two centuries, the nature of the varnishes coating historical instruments has been a much debated subject. Focusing in particular on the varnishes used for coating violins made by the Italian instrument-maker Antonio Stradivari, numerous hypotheses have been raised by instrument-makers, experts, musicians and chemists, without reaching a general understanding of the ancient varnishing techniques. A few years ago, we decided to work on this topic using several complementary approaches for materials characterisation and study of historical sources (ancient varnish recipes, etc.).
This year the International Barcode of Life initiative (IBoL) plans to begin an ambitious programme to barcode the DNA of more than five million specimens representing at least 500,000 species in five years. Molecular barcodes exploit the fact that molecular sequences offer an independent method to identify a sample. Such molecular barcodes have widespread application in systematics, biodiversity, forensics and even food science. Molecular barcodes tend to be based upon DNA, which with the advent of new technologies offers a fast and efficient means of identification. Proteins too have been used in the past for molecular identification, most commonly exploiting the exquisite specificity of antibodies to discriminate targeted proteins. Recently the idea of using protein mass spectrometry to fingerprint samples has been used to target samples in which processing or decay has destroyed the DNA.
The growing use of Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy as a tool for quality checking amongst other things foodstuffs, industrial products and pharmaceuticals begs the question of how this technology could be applied to quantifying aspects of the internal environment of living organisms. To do this requires knowledge of the types of exudates and secretions that organisms produce. Usefully, all organisms do this and, as such, the potential to look into the internal environment of living organisms is now being realised. My particular interest is in molluscan mucus as a measure of both species identification and environmental monitoring. This interest has led onto considerations of how monitoring of mucus could be used in other organisms, particularly humans. This article hopes to provide a brief current overview of the use of FT-IR spectroscopy in the investigation of mucus from a variety of organisms.
The intense development of industrial and urban areas in the absence of accurate measures to control pollution sources is often the cause of several environmental problems: dispersed and undetected chemical waste problems, in particular trace elements such as heavy metals, may cause freshwater, soil and water-table contamination. Such events are rarely detectable by sporadic analyses on water samples, since trace element concentrations are often below the instrumental detection limits and/or quickly change in space and time.
In urban environments, where the majority of the human population lives, air pollution is a major threat to human health. In many countries and regions of the world, this has led to the implementation of regulations to control the emissions of air pollutants and limits for the allowed concentrations of different types of air pollutants. The limits are set at levels at which harm to the health may occur if the limits are exceeded. One of these pollutants is aerosol particles. In most cases, the environmental quality standards limit is set to a certain mass concentration of particles of a certain size.
Often, chemists are interested in the most efficient way of converting our starting materials into the desired product. A huge number of reactions proceed via the production of intermediate species which are usually short-lived and difficult to detect. Such intermediates are considered to be of great importance because it is their reactivity which can determine the outcome of a reaction and, hence, the efficiency with which the final product is made. This can have widespread importance across the whole of chemistry, ranging from pharmaceutical and organic synthesis to catalysis and materials chemistry.
An NMR tour of Mediterranean anise-flavoured alcoholic beverages.
The enormous variability in the concentration of plant toxins and nutrients in trees, shrubs and forbs requires extensive sampling to accurately represent the nutritional and toxicological landscape and this is an ideal application for quantitative near infrared (NIR) reflectance spectroscopy. The speed of NIR spectroscopy analysis makes it ideally suited to environmental monitoring and ecological investigations where large numbers of replicates need to be measured. Several recent studies, including one focused on underwater plants on the Great Barrier Reef and the second in Bolivian rainforests, show the power of NIR spectroscopy to address large-scale variability in plant–animal interactions.
This article highlights the versatility of the developed methodology for the measurement of arsenic species in a range of materials from Devon Great Consols (DGC), one of many former mining sites in the south- west of England.
The purpose of this article is to give a comparative description of two methods applying ion-beam sputtering in materials research: secondary ion and neutral mass spectrometries (SIMS and SNMS). We shall illustrate the application of the latter by reports on a compositional analysis of perovskite oxides and on an investigation of nanoscaled multilayer structures.
This article shows that MALDI high resolution mass spectrometry demonstrated directly that Hev b 6 and Hev b 1, and also truncated forms thereof, are present on the inner surface of medical NRL gloves. The speed and high accuracy of the applied method and instrumentation makes the detection of surface associated proteins feasible without any prior protein extraction procedure (in situ localisation).
Spectroscopy plays a vital role in the forensic scientist’s task to analyse crime scene evidence. A new and emerging technique within the forensic field is X-ray fluorescence (XRF) microscopy.
This article outlines the use of the DOSY NMR method applied to drug analysis and screening for counterfeit drugs or fake herbal medicines
Interest in Raman spectroscopy as an analytical technique that can be applied in a wide variety of fields continues to increase. The main reason for this interest is that no special sample preparation is required. However, the Raman signal is typically very weak, with only one in every 106–108 photons being scattered. This has driven the development of several enhancement techniques, e.g. Resonance Raman (RR), Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) and Surface Enhanced Resonance Raman Spectroscopy (SERRS), which can be used for dilute samples.
This short review shows that UV/visible spectroscopy plays a key role in the discrimination of colour in the forensic analysis of fibres and inks. The application of chemometrics, however, is vital in many cases to enhance such discrimination and to put it on a quantitative basis so providing objective justification for the conclusions of the analyst.
In 2007 we introduced our method in Spectroscopy Europe describing the identification of furs by hair digest based matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation time of flight (MALDI-ToF) mass spectrometry (MS). This so-called SIAM (Species Identification of Animals) method can also be used for the species determination of ancient furs.
The Foundation for Analytical Science & Technology in Africa (FASTA) is a charitable company that was established in 2005 in response to a request to provide a GC-MS to the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology (JKUAT) in Nairobi, Kenya. FASTA was founded by Steve Lancaster of BP and Barrie Nixon of Mass Spec UK Ltd. The objectives of the organisation are to support scientific education, analytical research and the preservation of the environment in Africa via capacity-building and technology transfer.
In the present study, operando infrared (IR) spectroscopy was used to investigate under realistic conditions the oxidation activity of Pt and Pd supported on different oxides, with the aim of generating mechanistic information that will be used for the design of improved formulations.
The scientific study of fluid inclusions goes back to the middle of the 19th century. Geochemists have sought for years to find techniques that would allow them to analyse the contents of these small liquid bubbles, but the challenge is formidable. After the progressive development of techniques that yielded results for optimal samples, Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry has at last provided a means of analysing individual fluid inclusions in typical, rather than exceptional, samples.
This article discusses matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation (MALDI) enabled linear ion trap (LIT) mass spectrometry (MS) as a technique for fast and accurate tissue imaging, compared to the more traditional time-of-flight (ToF) method.