August Applied Spectroscopy Highlights

This month’s Focal Point review article is titled “Inductively Coupled Plasma – Mass Spectrometry: A review of challenges, solutions and trends”. It was written by Daniel Pröfrock and Andreas Prange from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht Centre for Materials and Coastal Research, and reviews the use of hyphenated ICP-MS approaches for quantitative analysis with a focus on environmental and bio-analytical applications.

Since it was first developed in the 1980s, ICP-MS has developed into a staple for simultaneous multi-element analysis and, since that time, over 20,000 papers have been published detailing a multitude of fundamentals and applications of the method. ICP-MS provides low detection limits, wide elemental coverage, capability for isotopic analysis, and the use of isotope dilution for internal standardization. As a result of these benefits, ICP-MS is used in many fields of human endeavor.

The Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht Centre for Materials and Coastal Research is located in Geesthacht and Teltow, to the south of Berlin, Germany, and is focused on research into high-performance materials, environmentally friendly technologies, climate change, and management of the coastal and marine environment. Pröfrock and Prange work on the development of sampling techniques for the determination of elements and element species in the marine environment, the development of new techniques for the quantification of marker proteins for the detection of contaminant-induced biological effects, and the development and application of hyphenated techniques (CE-ICP-MS, HPLC-ICP-MS, GC-ICP-MS, nano-HPLC-ESI-MS-MS, and LC-MALDI-TOF-TOF) for marine bio-analysis.

The Focal Point Review article surveys the current status and trends in hyphenated ICP-MS instrumentation and applications. The authors conclude that these techniques have considerable potential, especially for the design of accurate multiplexed quantification schemes needed for future biomedical applications such as high-throughput biomarker screening and quantification.

The contributed papers contain an interesting mix of theory, practice and instrumentation. Three papers cover various aspects of scattering. Oelkrug et al. report the calculation and measurement of the way in which light penetrates multiple scattering media; Larkin et al. write on internal multiple-scattering hole-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, with special emphasis on pharmaceutical tablets; while Bargigia and co-workers report on time-resolved diffuse optical spectroscopy in the vis-NIR region by means of a time-gated single-photon avalanche diode. Clearly (no pun intended), the study of scattering samples will be an increasingly important task for future spectroscopists.

There are several papers on different aspects of Raman spectroscopy in addition to the Larkin paper, covering such topics as time-resolved stand-off measurements by Lendl’s group, a new in vivo probe by Pudney et al., and NIR (1064-nm) Raman spectra of woods and geological samples performed on dispersive and FT instruments, respectively. The remaining nine papers cover nine different spectroscopic techniques, from LIBS, through fluorescence and colorimetry, to mid-infrared spectroscopy, and represent a nice summary of the many topics on which spectroscopy can shed its particular brand of light.

See Applied Spectroscopy, Volume 66, Number 8 (2012) for a full list of articles.

Peter Griffiths, Editor, Applied Spectroscopy.


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