Metal, Aerosols, and Biggy Smalls

World Conference of Science Journalists in London this week, so here’s a sneak preview of the July 1 issue of SpectroscopyNOW from the David Bradley segments in celebration. Wish me luck in defending my corner against those who would smite the science writers from our midst…

Iron proteins cast in surprising role – Iron is the most abundant transition metal in the human body. Its intriguing reduction-oxidation properties endow it with the active role as an essential cofactor in countless proteins. Some of these are involved in oxygen transport (haemoglobin in the blood), electron exchange for powering biochemical reactions and energy release (cytochromes), and the control of potentially harmful free radicals.

However, little is known about how the haem group that carries oxygen in blood and is the active centre of several enzymes is transported from where it is made in the cell to its host protein assembly. Now, UV-Vis spectroscopy has helped identify an enzyme that also functions as a haem transporter as well as protecting the fragile iron(II). More…

Aerosols all – Dust, sea salt, soot, bacteria, and pollutant particles all add to the mix of atmospheric aerosols that can seed cloud formation as water and ice condense on these tiny particles and ultimately lead to precipitation. Understanding future climate change might hinge on the analysis of all such contributing atmospheric aerosols. Now, infrared spectroscopy and mass spectrometry have revealed important clues as to the role of aerosols in affecting climate patterns. Full story…

Biggy smalls – Scientists in Israel and the US have demonstrated systematic differences in the Raman spectra of single molecules adsorbed on to small, as opposed to relatively large, nanoparticles. The discovery could open up a new approach to single molecule studies. Read on…

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