06 Oct 2010   |   News

Twente: 'Molecular roller coaster' can distinguish between molecules

Research lead

Researchers at the University of Twente’s MESA+ and MIRA institutes say that a system they have developed to identify molecules in solution is actually more sensitive than demonstrated earlier. Not only can it detect molecules accurately, it also shows the difference between them very clearly.

The research was co-financed by Nanoned, a national nanotechnology R&D initiative, the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) and the Netherlands Organizsation for Scientific Research (NWO).

While molecules in a solution can be measured with Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Spectroscopy (CARS), molecules that are very similar are difficult to distinguish from one another. The researchers previously introduced an improved form of CARS, which is much more sensitive, and with which molecules occurring at much lower concentrations can be tracked down.

Now in a new study it has been shown that the method is not only much more sensitive, but that it also makes it possible to detect up to ten different sorts of molecules simultaneously. In the past, several successive measurements had to be carried out to achieve this. The technology also makes it possible for researchers to follow in real time how medicines are released from a tablet, or how a living cell burns fats, for example. The researchers say this will have application in the pharmaceutical industry and in cell biology.