Portable spectrometers open absolutely new applications for process spectroscopy

At the present time process spectroscopy is a universal technique that allows making research in different fields of scientific analyses. Until quite recently the spectroscopy was limited by only laboratory conditions because of huge sizes of used spectrometers. That is why a group of researchers has developed a portable, hand-held type of spectrometers for process spectroscopy out of the lab.

Today manufacturing advancements made laser systems, sensors, and imaging tools more compact and highly reliable. Moreover, the progress has enlarged the application areas of process spectroscopy. The tabletop semiconductor laser, the benchtop Fourier transform infrared or FTIR and hand-held x-ray fluorescence spectrometers, in their turn, allows individuals untrained in spectroscopy to make research.

New fields of process spectroscopy application include:

  • Determination of protein structure

In spite of the fact that this application is not exactly new, recently IR and FTIR spectroscopy have enabled structural biologists to detect the secondary structure of proteins of almost any size. The structural biologists use IR spectroscopy and move it to a flow cell that was impossible to do before. The main advantage of the device is that protein concentrations can be measured over a wide range. Also, it is planned to use the new spectrometer for detailed structure determination of other biological macromolecules. The device is fully automated and is very close to FTIR spectrometer.

  • Art conservation

FTIR spectroscopy is widely used in the art market. This technique allows conserving, restoring or counterfeit detecting of priceless artworks with the aim of detailed identification of the paints, dyes, lacquers, and other chemical components. Thus, it is possible to identify whether the artwork is original or a copy. New FTIR spectrometer uses several mirrors to bring the IR light toward the painting and then recollect the reflected light back toward the device. Moreover, the device has enabled to make first-pass analyze of larger areas without samples.

  • Archaeological surveys

The crucial condition for a successful archaeological expedition is portability. That is why hand-held x-ray fluorescence spectrometer is commonly used. Initially, its application was limited by mining and environmental cleanup for nondestructive elemental and chemical analyses. The portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometer solved the problem of situations where objects cannot be removed from sites ­— or be moved out of the country.

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