The laboratory is equipped with optical spectroscopy-based measurement systems such as Raman, Middle and Near Infrared (FTIR), UV-VIS and Fluorescence spectroscopy. The application of such techniques in the food field represents an interesting novelty, both for the possibility to be applied directly to the analysis matrix (whether in solid, liquid or gaseous form), and for the chemical fingerprint of the sample that these techniques can provide.
The non-destructive nature of such techniques allows applications to detect and identify contaminants or particular chemical species both in organic matrices and on surfaces of industrial interest.
The laboratory has two spectrophotometers for medium and near-infrared Fourier transform, equipped with microscope and motorised micro-stages for surface chemical imaging. For trace gas components analysis an high-pass optical gas cell (6 m) is present. There are also four micro-Raman spectrometers with a variety of excitation laser sources (455 nm, 532 nm, 633 nm, 780 nm and 1064 nm), also equipped with motorised stage for microanalysis, that can be coupled with gas cells. UV-VIS and fluorescence spectrophotometers are used to quantify food toxins.
Resources such as high power sonication systems, spin coaters and high vacuum reaction rooms with temperature control, are available for the fabrication, characterization and application of innovative nanoparticles. These systems are used for the production of engineered nanoparticles of titanium dioxide used as reference materials.
Moreover, metallic nanostructured materials are used in combination with Raman spectroscopy techniques to exploit signal amplification effects in order to increase the analytical sensitivity of the methods. In particular, nano-photonic technologies linked to Raman spectroscopy are amplified by plasmonic effects, either by using nanoparticles and/or nanostructured solid substrates for Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) applications. In addition, an apparatus which uses probe scanning microscopy techniques combined with Raman spectroscopy (Tip-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy, TERS) in order to obtain chemical images of nanostructured substrates and molecules with nanometric resolution is available.
Atomic resolution imaging techniques are also available through atomic force microscopy (AFM) and tunneling scan microscopy (STM).
The Radiochemistry and Spectroscopy laboratories are located at the Department of Chemistry and close to the Laboratorio Energia Nucleare Applicata (LENA) of the University of Pavia.
The facilities, the health surveillance services and the installed instruments allow to develop and apply analytical methods based on activation analysis for the determination of more than sixty elements of the periodic table with a relative uncertainty within the range 1 % - 10 % and mass fraction detection limits within the range 10-6 - 10-12.
In addition to common instruments available in an analytical chemistry laboratory, there are three gamma spectrometry chains, two of which are equipped with an automatic sample replacement system.
The neutron irradiations are performed at the Triga Mark II research neutron reactor of the University of Pavia and operated by LENA.
The activity mainly focuses on the development and use of electrochemical measurement techniques for the determination of additives and contaminants in food matrices.
In particular, by using the technique of stripping voltammetry, the concentration of ochratoxin A in wine is determined.
The laboratory has two electrochemical measurement techniques for the estimation of the surface area of gold electrodes: cyclic voltammetry at different scan rates based on the Randles-Sevcik equation and linear scanning voltammetry at different rotation speeds of the electrode, based on the Levich equation.
In addition, the laboratory has a primary measuring system for electrolytic conductivity for the quality control of water and beverage.