InfraRed absorption spectroscopy is a non-destructive and quantitative analytical probe of the molecular composition especially of soft/condensed matter. Via an IR microscope the 2-dimensional molecular distribution is also accessible at microscopic scale for the benefit of a variety of researches, from biomedicine to new material sciences or cultural heritage. Its coupling to a broadband and bright Synchrotron Radiation source like Diamond boosts the IR microprobe molecular sensitivity beyond the capabilities of conventional methods and the spatial resolution to the diffraction limit.
My scientific activity at the MIRIAM beamline covers several collaborative researches in Synchrotron Radiation IR: BioMedicine - e.g. assessing chemotheraphy time-to-dose response at single cell level or searching for stem cells IR biomarkers for their location in tissue sections; Material Science - vibrational analysis of catalysers microcrystal or of composite/polymeric material microstructure under stress-strain; Archaeology and Cultural Heritage – elucidating the physicochemistry of ancient (XV century) painting fragments in terms of environmental changes and historical pigment evolution. State-of-the-art SR based IR microanalysis is by scanning microscopy, particularly advantageous in confocal mode. One of my current research focus is to develop full field IR microscopy via broadband SR illumination in order to provide fast IR imaging at high magnification (74x), and optimal molecular map oversampling for ultimate resolution retrieval.
THz spectroscopy can probe elusive low energy excitations, e.g. molecular collective modes or conformational changes, and superconductors gaps. My THz activity uses the intense Coherent Synchrotron Radiation emitted at Diamond in low alpha mode and MIRIAM set up allowing the broadest spectral range (<3 THz) available at SR facility.
Alongside optical methods, my major project is on near field IR spectroscopy: based on innovative detection method via submicron cantilever tips, it will open the field to sub-IR wavelength spectroscopy e.g. molecular imaging of living cells at organelle scale.
As Principal IR Beamline Scientist, I am responsible of operations and research activity at the Multimode InfraRed Microscopy And Imaging (MIRIAM) beamline B22 at Diamond.