ARCHIVED - Shaking it Up with Infrared Spectroscopy

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February 04, 2004— Ottawa, Ontario

In the past, synchrotrons have been used primarily as sources for the ultraviolet and X-ray wavelength regions, but recently there has been an increasing realization of their value as high-brightness infrared sources. The Canadian Light Source has been designed from the outset to be a flexible machine, able to provide not only the high energy hard X-ray portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, but also the lower energy infrared portion. Absorption of radiation in this region causes the molecules within a material to vibrate. This vibrational spectrum produced by absorption of infrared light is one of a material's most characteristic features, revealing to scientists its chemical composition and intermolecular interactions.

For example, the spectrum of infrared light absorbed by a tissue biopsy provides a direct indication of its biochemistry. However, with the low spatial resolution of traditional instrumentation, spectra have to be averaged over groups of cells and therefore represent a combination of normal and diseased states. With the bright and narrow infrared light provided by a synchrotron, studies will be possible on single cells. The availability of the difference between the vibrational properties of healthy and diseased cells will aid researchers in developing novel diagnostic tools and treatment methods.
A) Photomicrograph of a section of grey matter affected by Alzheimer's disease. B) Protein concentration in the section as determined by infrared spectroscopy. C) Protein structure maps obtained from synchrotron infrared spectra. Areas shaded blue indicate likely protein deposits (amyloid).
A) Photomicrograph of a section of grey matter affected by Alzheimer's disease.

B) Protein concentration in the section as determined by infrared spectroscopy.
C) Protein structure maps obtained from synchrotron infrared spectra. Areas shaded blue indicate likely protein deposits (amyloid).

 

One infrared endstation will be dedicated to industrial use. The endstation will be staffed by highly qualified scientists who will perform the complex measurements required to analyze industrial samples. The facility is expected to prove enormously useful to companies involved in fuel cell development, communications and the automobile and semiconductor industries.
Optical photograph of silicon wafer coated with 25 micron by 25 micron gold squares.
Optical photograph of silicon wafer coated with 25 micron by 25 micron gold squares.

Shedding Light on Disease at NRC-IBD

Dr. Mike Jackson of the NRC Institute for Biodiagnostics (NRC-IBD) is coordinator of the infrared endstation devoted to biological microscopy and an author on the first paper in the world to report on synchrotron infrared spectroscopy on human tissue.

The Canadian team conducted their work at a synchrotron in the US, taking advantage of the increased brightness of synchrotron radiation to probe the structure of protein deposits in central nervous system tissue affected by Alzheimer's disease.

The studies indicated structural differences between the in situ and in vitro spectra of the deposits that are typically seen in Alzheimer's disease, which may have practical implications for researchers designing drugs to aid people suffering from Alzheimer's.

Such studies clearly demonstrate the utility of synchrotron infrared microscopy in the study of human disease.

 

Infrared Microscopy for Industrial Materials at NRC-ICPET

Dr. Farid Bensebaa of the NRC Institute for Chemical Process and Environmental Technology (NRC-ICPET) is coordinating the fee-for-service infrared endstation for industrial spectroscopy.

According to Dr. Bensebaa, "There are many practical advantages of being able to analyze very small samples, or small areas of larger samples. For example in microelectronics, it means that small impurities on semiconductors can be detected."

In his own research, Dr. Bensebaa has characterized the coverage and ordering of monolayer films on a pattern of gold squares using infrared microspectroscopy. With a traditional infrared source, Dr. Bensebaa has shown that minute amounts (a femtomole) of the nanometer thick organic patterned film could be detected. These results are relevant to the microelectronics and biosensing industries. When CLS becomes operational, detection at the sub-femtomole level will be easily obtained.

 

Far Infrared: The Last Frontier at NRC-SIMS

Dr. Robert McKellar of the NRC Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences (NRC-SIMS) coordinates the far-infrared beamline team at the CLS.

Dr. McKellar is looking forward to getting at the infrared spectrum of the thophosgene molecule. A lovely deep orangey-yellow colour, the toxic and smelly molecule is widely appreciated by photochemists for its strong absorption of light in the visible region. But according to Dr. McKellar, "The finer details of its infrared spectrum are not yet known because conventional instruments have difficulty resolving the closely spaced absorption lines."

Canada's synchrotron will provide the high spectral and spatial resolution necessary for such studies. To fully capitalize on the high quality beam, the far infrared beamline will be equipped with a world-class spectrometer. According to Dr. McKellar, "The spectrometer is now successfully installed at CLS and performing very well."

Dr. Robert McKellar (NRC-SIMS), Tim May (CLS) and Gregor Surawicz (Bruker Optics, Germany) in the endstation of the far-infrared beamline with the new, ultra-high resolution spectrometer.
Dr. Robert McKellar (NRC-SIMS), Tim May (CLS) and Gregor Surawicz (Bruker Optics, Germany) in the endstation of the far-infrared beamline with the new, ultra-high resolution spectrometer.
In addition to the mid-infrared beamline serving the biological and industrial endstations, one of the first beamlines to be commissioned at the CLS will be dedicated to far infrared studies. The far-infrared region is not well understood by scientists as measurements at these wavelengths have been hampered by many difficulties including the weakness of ordinary, "hot body" sources of far infrared light. But Canada has one of the world's strongest infrared communities and with the CLS providing far-infrared light that is 100 times brighter than ordinary sources, Canada will maintain international leadership in this "final frontier" for infrared spectroscopy.

Follow the links below to learn more about NRC projects planned for the Canadian Light Source.


Enquiries: Media relations
National Research Council of Canada
613-991-1431
media@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca

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