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New method reveals substances on surfaces of any kind
Date:9/7/2007

is then fed into the mass spectrometer where the absorbed substances can be precisely analysed.

Equipment modification in less than an hour

Professor Zenobi says There is nothing special about the new method from a technical viewpoint. Huanwen Chen, who has developed the method during his post-doctoral studies in Zenobis group, impressively demonstrated this when together with his supervisor he presented the new method to a company. Within one hour Chen had modified their mass spectrometer so that it could be used to analyse the surface of any kind of object.

However, the remarkable aspect of the new method is the wide variety of possi-bilities it opens up. One particular strength of our approach is that even the surfaces of living organisms can be examined. It only takes a few seconds to measure a single sample; so large numbers of random samples can be routinely analysed, Zenobi says. For meat samples the scientists were also able to show that the sample material does not even need to be thawed.

Numerous possible applications

The studies carried out by the researchers on the skin of various test persons lead in quite a different direction. Traces of nicotine, coffee and explosives could all be detected on the skin. According to Zenobi The methods strength is that it is fast and non-invasive, and needs no special sample preparation. In view of the numerous possible applications, it is not surprising that the new method is of interest not only to foodstuffs technologists and safety experts but also to medi-cal professionals and drugs investigators in sport.


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Contact: Professor Renato Zenobi
zenobi@org.chem.ethz.ch
41-446-324-376
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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