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Negligible Sample Heating from Synchrotron Infrared Beam

Volume 55, Number 2 (Feb. 2001) Page 111-113

Martin, Michael C.; Tsvetkova, Nelly M.; Crowe, John H.; McKinney, Wayne R.

The use of synchrotron sources for infrared (IR) spectromicroscopy provides greatly increased brightness that enables high-quality IR measurements at diffraction-limited spatial resolutions. This capability permits synchrotron-based IR spectromicroscopy to be applied to biological applications at spatial resolutions on the order of the size of a single mammalian cell. The question then arises, "Does the intense synchrotron beam harm biological samples?" Mid-IR photons are too low in energy to break bonds directly; however, they could cause damage to biological molecules due to heating. In this work, we present measurements that show negligible sample heating effects from a diffraction-limited synchrotron IR source. The sample used is fully hydrated lipid bilayers composed of dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC), which undergoes a phase transition from a gel into a liquid-crystalline state at about 315 K during heating. Several IR-active vibrational modes clearly shift in frequency when the sample passes through the phase transition. We calibrate and then use these shifting vibrational modes as an in situ temperature sensor.