A picture and 2,000 words in Science magazine: two Kansas scientists work at forefront of emerging technology

MANHATTAN, KAN. -- Writing in the latest issue of Science magazine, released Aug. 19, Kansas State University chemist David Wetzel and co-author Steven LeVine of the University of Kansas Medical Center describe advances in the rapidly emerging technology, infrared microspectroscopy, and its increasing applications for biological and other research.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science publishes Science magazine, one of the most prestigious journals about scientific research.

The invited article by the two Kansas scientists, "Imaging Molecular Chemistry with Infrared Microscopy," appears in Techview. On the cover, a cross-section photomicrograph of a rat retina appears in color achieved with optical techniques only possible since December with the all-reflecting microscope.

Wetzel and LeVine have worked at the cutting edge of this technology since the modern infrared microscope was developed and patented in 1989. Almost immediately, Wetzel carried sectioned wheat samples to the inventor's labs for analysis on the new instruments, thus becoming one of the first researchers in the world to test its capability for analyzing biological materials.

The quality of the data from those first wheat experiments became the basis for a scientific presentation, and subsequent scientific publication.

According to Wetzel, inside a wheat kernel or other tissues, there are localized miniature biochemical factories with raw material, intermediate material and end products. "With an infrared microspectrometer, we could begin to see how each factory is working, and analyze it on the spot," he explained.

Infrared microspectroscopy combines a special infrared microscope, infrared spectrometer and computer. This instrumentation makes it possible to analyze the localized chemical content of extremely small specimen -- single cells, single fibers, single crystals, and botanical parts. The technical advance eliminated the need to grind up a sample

Contact: Dr. David Wetzel
Kansas State University

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