Atomic Force Microscope Infrared Spectroscopy (or more commonly abbreviated as AFM-IR) has a range of applications in very many fields. This article hopes to explore the varying application of this technology in the undoubtedly important field of Pharmaceutical Medicine.
First, to understand the potential and the capability of AFM-IR, one has to understand the concept of how it works. In very loose and very simple terms, an AFM-IR illuminates a single sample material with pulses of infrared radiation, while probing the sample using the tip of an Atomic Force Microscope in order to detect the radiation as it is absorbed by the sample.
An interesting thing happens to radiation as it interacts with any form of matter – it is converted into heat as it interacts with the sample. This in turn causes a thermal pulse in the AFM probe tip – and oscillation in the AFM cantilever. This oscillation is then measured – generating a rather unique “fingerprint” which identifies materials on an atomic level. This of course has a large application in very many things, especially medicine.
Medicine applications are generally dependent on AFM-IR in a number of ways due to AFM-IR’s ability to overcome the limitations of more traditional AFM based imaging modes which are rather ambiguous to say the least. AFM-IR, instead of relying on imaging modes, gives true and precise chemical identification, which involves direct measurement of sample heat absorption. This results in accurate and retailed analysis of band shapes, peak shifts, and secondary structure and orientation effects, to name a few things.
The shelf lives, efficiencies, and the effectiveness of medicine compounds over time can be measured with Atomic Force Microscope Infrared Spectroscopy, as medicine at its heart is two substances which have bound together – held in a capsule. Over time, these materials will separate, and the analysis of matter at a chemical level over time can indicate all manner of interest in the way that the two compounds continue to interact.
AFM-IR isn’t simply limited to gauging shelf life of compounds either. The identification of compounds is also performed by AFM-IR, thanks to the sensitivity of AFM-IR and detailed analysis it gives over traditional AFM techniques. These revolutionary machines are manufactured by industry leading firm Anasys Instruments, and supplied by Scanwel, a supplier and distributor of expert solutions in Vacuum, Surface Science and Nanoscience – in North Wales.
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