Nav: Home

Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

June 14, 2017

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) in Berlin have developed a molecular thermometer. The gemstone ruby served as the source of inspiration. However, the thermometer developed by the team headed by Professor Katja Heinze at the JGU Institute of Inorganic Chemistry and Analytical Chemistry is a water-soluble molecule, not an insoluble solid. Like a ruby, this molecule contains the element chromium that gives it its red color, which is why it has also been dubbed the molecular ruby. This molecular ruby can be used to measure temperature in many different environments thanks to its solubility: it can be introduced into liquids, solids, nano-particles, and micelles. Thus, it has potential applications in the fields of the material sciences, biology, and medicine.

Measuring the temperature with the molecular ruby is very straightforward. The relevant site is irradiated with blue light, which is absorbed by the molecular ruby that then emits infrared radiation at two different wavelengths. Depending on the temperature, there is more intense emission of infrared at one of the two wavelengths. The temperature is then determined on the basis of the corresponding ratio of intensity of the two wavelengths. "Anyone with a simple emission spectrometer can undertake this kind of measurement," explained Sven Otto, a doctoral candidate in Heinze's team. "The molecular ruby works at 100 degrees Celsius just as well as at minus 63 degrees Celsius, that is in a range relevant to everyday practice," added Otto.

The principle of optical ratiometric temperature measurement is not new. However, it was previously impossible to take measurements using only a single type of photoactive agent. To date, scientists always needed two dyes, i.e., one that produced emission dependent on temperature and another reference dye with emission independent of temperature. That made synthesis and calibration a lot more difficult. "Our molecular ruby, on the other hand, is simply made from inexpensive raw materials and no additional reference substances are required to measure temperature," said Professor Katja Heinze. "It can be employed whenever we want to measure temperature without having to contact the object directly as with a conventional thermometer."
-end-
The research findings have been published in a special edition of Chemistry - A European Journal designed to mark the 150th anniversary of the German Chemical Society (GDCh) and featuring contributions from eminent German researchers.

The research work is being funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the framework of, inter alia, the Graduate School of Excellence Materials Science in Mainz (MAINZ). The DFG recently approved a new priority program entitled "Light-controlled reactivity of metal complexes" that is coordinated by Professor Katja Heinze.

Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz

Related Biology Articles:

Experimental Biology press materials available now
Though the Experimental Biology (EB) 2020 meeting was canceled in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, EB research abstracts are being published in the April 2020 issue of The FASEB Journal.
Structural biology: Special delivery
Bulky globular proteins require specialized transport systems for insertion into membranes.
Cell biology: All in a flash!
Scientists of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have developed a tool to eliminate essential proteins from cells with a flash of light.
A biology boost
Assistance during the first years of a biology major leads to higher retention of first-generation students.
Cell biology: Compartments and complexity
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich biologists have taken a closer look at the subcellular distribution of proteins and metabolic intermediates in a model plant.
Cell biology: The complexity of division by two
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich researchers have identified a novel protein that plays a crucial role in the formation of the mitotic spindle, which is essential for correct segregation of a full set of chromosomes to each daughter cell during cell division.
Cell biology: Dynamics of microtubules
Filamentous polymers called microtubules play vital roles in chromosome segregation and molecular transport.
The biology of color
Scientists are on a threshold of a new era of color science with regard to animals, according to a comprehensive review of the field by a multidisciplinary team of researchers led by professor Tim Caro at UC Davis.
Kinky biology
How and why proteins fold is a problem that has implications for protein design and therapeutics.
A new tool to decipher evolutionary biology
A new bioinformatics tool to compare genome data has been developed by teams from the Max F.
More Biology News and Biology Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Processing The Pandemic
Between the pandemic and America's reckoning with racism and police brutality, many of us are anxious, angry, and depressed. This hour, TED Fellow and writer Laurel Braitman helps us process it all.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#568 Poker Face Psychology
Anyone who's seen pop culture depictions of poker might think statistics and math is the only way to get ahead. But no, there's psychology too. Author Maria Konnikova took her Ph.D. in psychology to the poker table, and turned out to be good. So good, she went pro in poker, and learned all about her own biases on the way. We're talking about her new book "The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Invisible Allies
As scientists have been scrambling to find new and better ways to treat covid-19, they've come across some unexpected allies. Invisible and primordial, these protectors have been with us all along. And they just might help us to better weather this viral storm. To kick things off, we travel through time from a homeless shelter to a military hospital, pondering the pandemic-fighting power of the sun. And then, we dive deep into the periodic table to look at how a simple element might actually be a microbe's biggest foe. This episode was reported by Simon Adler and Molly Webster, and produced by Annie McEwen and Pat Walters. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.