Nano-Sized Infrared Spectroscopy Converts Molecular Fingerprint into Barcodes


Uv visible spectroscopy / Photo by: Anucha Cheechang via Shutterstock


Infrared spectroscopy is one of many chemical analyzing techniques used for chemical samples. The technique allows infrared light to interact with the molecules in the sample. Typically, it measures molecular absorption, emission, and reflection, but equipment that performs such a test has a large size and consumes a considerable amount of space in a laboratory.

So, a team of scientists at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne employed nanotechnology to develop a miniature infrared spectroscopy system. The system is comprised of an engineered surface covered by metapixels or several hundreds of tiny sensors. When a molecule from a sample comes in contact with the surface, a set of metapixels resonates a specific frequency. The frequency resonated would depend on how the molecule absorbed the infrared light.

“Importantly, the metapixels are arranged in such a way that different vibrational frequencies are mapped to different areas on the surface,” said Andreas Tittl, the lead author of the study at EPFL.

When a user applied the nanotech system to analyze molecular fingerprints, the tool will generate a distinct barcode. Each barcode represents a certain molecule that touched the engineered surface. The barcodes can be utilized for mass analysis and be classified via advanced pattern recognition or other similar software powered by artificial neural networks.

According to Dragomir Neshew, a co-author of the study, the system may be used in a number of potential applications including medical diagnosis through analysis of biomarkers in the blood. Artificial intelligence may be integrated into the system for an enhanced chemical analysis of different pesticides, polymers, and other chemicals.