Infrared spectroscopy is a powerful technique in the study of condensed matter since the energy of electronic excitations and lattice vibrations fall in its range. The lattice vibrations are especially useful in soft condensed matter where the change is phonon modes signal conformational changes, oxidative stress or other bio-chemical processes in the living matter. Since the development of very bright infrared sources based on synchrotron radiation, the scanning infrared spectro-microscopy (SIRMS) enables the creation of a vibrational map of tissues, cells with a spatial resolution of few microns. This allows the localization of regions where structural/biochemical changes have happened. These maps carry quantitative information of the sample in contrast to simple fluorescence imaging.
The subject of this proposal inscribes into an interdisciplinary research. We plan to apply SIRMS technique to investigate topics of major interest in living matter: i) neurodegenerative diseases (Huntington and multiple sclerosis) where the formation of plaques, and the correlations of demyelization in white and gray matter will be followed on animal models; and ii) the toxicity effect of nanostructures, where the biochemical precursors and consequences of cell death will be addressed.
These measurements will be performed at the newly created SIRMS facility of the Swiss Light Source (SLS) at Villigen.