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Proceedings Paper

Biosensing with T-ray spectroscopy
Author(s): Bernd M. Fischer; Hanspeter Helm; Derek Abbott
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Paper Abstract

In the recent years, it has been shown that terahertz (or T-ray) spectroscopy is a versatile tool for biosensing and safety applications. This is due to the fact that the THz-spectra of many biomolecules show very characteristic, distinct spectroscopic features. Furthermore, most non-metallic packaging materials are nearly transparent in this frequency range (0.1 - 6 THz, 3 cm-1 - 200 cm-1), so that it is possible to non-invasively identify even sealed substances like pharmaceuticals, illicit drugs or explosives by their spectroscopic signatures. This opens a significant potential for a wide range of applications from quality control of pharmaceutical substances via safety applications through to biomedical applications. The individual spectroscopic features below approximately 5 THz that spurred the increased world wide interest in T-ray spectroscopy are mainly due to intermolecular rather than intramolecular vibrations in the polycrystalline samples. The spectra of more complex biomolecules, like proteins and nucleotides, typically show less or even no sharp features, due to the lack of long- range intermolecular order. Furthermore, due to the typically significantly smaller sample amount, the signal to noise ratio is strongly increased. Water shows a strong absorption in this frequency range, which all together makes real biomedical applications of T-ray spectroscopy rather difficult. Yet, by combining a careful sample preparation, novel experimental techniques and an advanced signal processing of the experimental data we can still clearly distinguish between even complex biomolecules and therefore demonstrate the potential the technique holds for biomedical applications.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 July 2007
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 6633, Biophotonics 2007: Optics in Life Science, 66331D (13 July 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.728106
Show Author Affiliations
Bernd M. Fischer, The Univ. of Adelaide (Australia)
Albert-Ludwigs-Univ. Freiburg (Germany)
Hanspeter Helm, Albert-Ludwigs Univ. Freiburg (Germany)
Derek Abbott, The Univ. of Adelaide (Australia)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6633:
Biophotonics 2007: Optics in Life Science
Jürgen Popp; Gert von Bally, Editor(s)

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