Science in Action

Welcome to Science in Action. Our new series showcasing how our technologies, scientists, design and software engineers, and solutions are applied to real-world situations. From drilling thousands of feet below the icy surface of Antarctica to exploring concepts of life on other planets, our stories will stimulate your imagination and open new possibilities in your own scientific endeavors.

Prof. Deep Jariwala with a HORIBA LabRAM HR Evolution Raman microscope with TERS

Prof. Deep Jariwala with a HORIBA LabRAM HR Evolution Raman microscope with TERS

Understanding two-dimensional material interfaces with AFM Raman/TERS will transform computing

Two-dimensional materials have the potential to replace Silicon on microprocessors in computers. If we want to replace Silicon with some of these emerging materials, we must understand everything about it and need standard characterization routes for it too. AFM Raman with TERS is an essential tool.


Nano-scale research and technology leads to advanced materials development

“Plastic airplane” Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Plastic airplanes? Nanotechnology makes it possible, with the help of AFM Raman/TERS instrumentation. Read about how it all comes together.

Researcher developing (non) linear nano-optical methods to characterize heterogenous interfaces

At the nanoscale, heterogeneous interfaces take on unique properties, adding a layer of complexity that AFM Raman and TERS can help uncover.

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Fluorescence spectroscopy proves a fast accurate and economical method for wastewater measurement

Prof. Shane Snyder talks about wastewater management challenges and how he depends on fluorescence spectroscopy to monitor water quality.

Fluorescence Spectroscopy detects mold in bourbon grains

Luke Adam, Ph.D.

Jim Beam Distillery found a way to detect mold in grains efficiently and economically through fluorescence spectroscopy and the HORIBA Aqualog.

Fluorescence spectroscopy exposes carbon cycle changes

Juliana D'Andrilli, Ph.D.

Humans, through the migration of populations, agricultural practices and fossil fuel consumption have interfered with the natural carbon cycle of the planet, Fluorescence spectroscopy gives us clues as to how those changes will affect our environment.

Raman and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopies reveal the mysteries behind ancient Japanese art form

"Tokaido 53rd Nouchi Mizuguchi Choemon" (Kaei 5/1852), by Utagawa Toyokuni

How researchers use Raman spectroscopy and XRF to analyze paintings of Kabuki actors, sumo wrestlers and female beauties to uncover materials used in the centuries-old Ukiyo-e technique.

Welcome to the dawn of a paradigm shift in technology

Quantum materials ― 2D sandwiches of one atom thick sheets will take us into the next electronics revolution. Read about one researcher’s quest, using a customized microscopy system performing multiple spectroscopies.

Detection of smoke taint in grapes and wine—a simpler, faster and less expensive optical method based on A-TEEM spectroscopy

Wildfire frequency and duration have increased in recent years

Increasingly frequent wildfires and bushfires threaten grape and wine output. Read how fluorescence spectroscopy and A-TEEM technology can quantify smoke taint and yield cost and quality benefits.

Chilean grape and wine quality assessment with Aqualog A-TEEM analyses

From left to right: Jorge Zincker, Doreen Schober, and Mónica Rodríguez

See how scientists at Chile’s largest wine maker are using HORIBA’s Aqualog with A-TEEM technology to classify grapes and wines for quality and chemical composition.

Research into ion transport through cell membranes aided by fluorescence spectroscopy

Ion transport through cell membranes is at the heart of most biological processes. Matthew Langton of Oxford is finding ways using fluorescence spectroscopy to synthesize molecules to take the place of dysfunctional proteins.

Glucose Binding Molecules could revolutionize diabetes management

Glucose binding receptor

The discovery of a glucose binding molecule could revolutionize diabetes management. Researchers are also working with partners to develop these molecular sensors to release insulin as needed. And the Duetta benchtop spectrofluorometer is at the heart of the discovery.

Fluorescence sensors contribute to biological and display technologies

Lars-Olof Pålsson Ph.D.

Read about how fluorescence sensors can be used as biological detectives and also enhance display technology development.

A-TEEM™ and fluorescence spectroscopy may offer a better way to feed the world

Rich Lamar, Ph.D.

Humic materials are part of a class of compounds called biostimulants that, when applied to plants or agricultural soils, stimulate plant growth and productivity. A-TEEM fluorescence spectroscopy and can quantify the concentration of fulvic acids more efficiently.

Mars life signs probed by spectroscopy

Perseverance Roving on Mars. (Courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Was there life on Mars? If so, will it look anything like it does on Earth? Spectroscopy will lead the investigation.

MXenes are revolutionizing nanotechnology with the help of Raman Spectroscopy

Yury Gogotsi, Ph.D.

Yury Gogotsi, Ph.D., is a co-inventor of MXenes (pronounced ‘maxines’). It’s touted as the next evolutionary leap in two-dimensional nanomaterials and materials science in general, and could provide countless benefits like high-power energy storage (think of a car battery charging in a few minutes), metallic electrical conductivity, flexibility and transparency required for wearable technology.

Historic carbon fluctuations could expose climate change secrets

Matthew Harris

Our planet has posed a baffling puzzle for scientists ―one that contradicts established climate theories and has enormous implications for the future.

Study validates fluorescence spectroscopy with A-TEEM for fast and precise wine authentication

Ruchira Ranaweera and David Jeffery in their lab with a HORIBA Aqualog.

The aim of the study was to see if fluorescence spectroscopy, using HORIBA’s proprietary A-TEEM technology, and a novel use of a multivariate algorithm could effectively and economically identify a number of wine samples produced from various regions in Australia.

Yellowstone’s treasures may hold clues to life

Yellowstone National Park hot spring

Michael Gonsior studies dissolved organic materials (DOM) from an environment that scientists believe replicates many of the conditions of ancient Earth ― the majestic hot springs in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park.

How XRF may help uncover hidden clues to life on Mars

Artist's illustration of NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover

Was there life on Mars? We'll soon find out, as the Mars 2020 expedition, which launched on July 30, 2020, will explore an ancient lake bed with XRF for signs of life. It may change our ideas of evolution in the universe.

Raman breakthrough recovers erased serial numbers from plastic guns

Superimposed image of the pixels, showing the Raman information extracted and analyzed.

The proliferation of cheap plastic guns have made recovering sanded-off serial numbers a problem. What works for metal doesn’t for polymers. Raman may have an answer.

"Disruptive" carbon research deepens climate change understanding

The Kamienczyk waterfall in the Karkonosze National Park in Poland

Increasing atmospheric CO2 is causing significant warming of the Earth by changing the heat and water balances between the surface and atmosphere.

Can Raman microscopy reveal art forgeries?

Jackson Pollock painting

In a quiet NYC neighborhood, a frustrated artist created forgeries of America’s Modernistic masters. Raman Spectroscopy did him in.

The baker’s son

Tong Sun Kobilka, M.D., and her husband, Nobel Laureate Brian Kobilka, M.D.

The chairman told him the news. The Nobel Committee chose Kobilka and his mentor, Robert Lefkowitz, M.D., as the 2012 co-recipients of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

AFIS key to catching crook in unlikely match

PrintQuest print extraction

The investigators lifted the palm print, and the readable area of that print was tiny - the size the tip of a pinky.

What are microplastics?

Microplastics from waste

Microplastics pose a problem for our environment, food supply and health. Yet it’s ingrained in our technology and the result of our waste habits.

Where do microplastics come from?

Where do microplastics come from: A study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that ordinary consumer products are the source of most of the ocean’s primary microplastics.

Microplastics – tiny plastic particles smaller than 5 mm – from that shirt or car tires are seeping into our biosphere. We ingest, inhale and absorb these particles through our skin.

Scientist pioneers wastewater treatments to fight global warming effects

Pilot equipment for experimental water treatment process at the Hampton Roads SanitationDistrict

Vaidya and her team are developing methods of advanced water treatment that not only returns the wastewater to a healthy level, but raises the ground water level, and prevents land subsidence and seawater intrusion.

Microplastics: a big problem for the environment

Microplastics are turning up everywhere. Microplastics in water, microplastics in the ocean.

A common accessory - the plastic straw -  is contributing to a type of contaminant affecting our ecosystems, not to mention the human food chain.

Microplastics explained

Microplastics explained videos

Microplastics, microscopic bits of manufactured or decayed plastics, are invading our surroundings. Researchers found it in our seas, drinking water, rainwater - and even table salt.

Mishaps and ski trip lead to laser revolution

Prof. Gérard Mourou and one of his initial diffraction gratings

Mourou’s goal was to develop an ultra-short, high-intensity laser pulse without destroying the equipment used to produce it.

Researcher traces path of potentially toxic nanoparticles

Prabir Dutta, Ph.D., of Ohio State University

Scientists use nanoparticles in a variety of applications, including medicine, pharmaceuticals, electronics, biomaterials, energy production and consumer products.

Cleaner water through fluorescence spectroscopy and artificial intelligence

Miller focused his research on drinking water quality monitoring and management, along with treatment optimization.

Fluorescence spectroscopy becoming key to identifying pain

Berezin turned his focus to imaging inflammation in the body – and how to locate it. That, he hoped, would eventually lead to the treatment of peripheral neuropathy and chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy in particular.

Medical examiner department ID’s evidence with alternative light sources

Heidi Nichols, a forensic photographer with the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner's office

Alternative light sources are typically used in crime scene investigation and post mortem examinations to identify many forms of evidence.

The science of food

Richard Ludescher from Rutgers University

This is the field of food science. Each food has its own unique food problem. And food scientists are responsible for designing ways to manufacture and preserve the quality and safety of those foods throughout its lifecycle.

Using low temperatures to probe 2D materials for device applications

HORIBA LabRAM HR Evolution Raman Spectrometer

“People strive to make devices faster and more energy efficient,” He said. “If we can study the fundamental properties and see if proposed materials would be suitable for these types of applications, it can help people design or make devices.”

Carbon black lightens your wallet

Rafael Vargas, Ph.D. in his Birla Carbon technology lab with a HORIBA Ultima Expert ICP-OES

Vargas, a Ph.D., is the Lead Scientist for the Analytical and Materials Analysis Laboratories at Birla Carbon. And the Marietta, Georgia-based company’s world revolves around carbon black.

How fusion breakthroughs will lead to clean renewable energy

Chase Taylor, Ph.D.

Nuclear fusion is viewed by many as the holy grail of clean, renewable energy.

Designing a new breed of nuclear reactors

Adriean Couet, Ph.D

To most scientists, climate change is real. The challenge is to find more and better energy sources to generate electricity that do not emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

How to measure temperature with light

Sukwon Choi, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Penn State University

Satellite communications, military radar systems and those 5-G networks you will soon depend on have something in common. Scientists base these systems on microelectronics – the design, manufacture, and use of integrated circuits.

Materials characterization crucial in Silicon Valley systems

Fuhe Li, the Director of Advanced Materials for Air Liquide Balazs

A semiconductor manufacturer in the Silicon Valley faced a sizable setback. Something was contaminating its product, and the company halted production. That cost the manufacturer millions of dollars a day.

Making better gas turbines

Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Large, land-based gas turbines are the worker bees behind energy production. These devices convert the heat from nuclear fuel, concentrated solar power and fossil fuels like coal and gas, into electricity.

Is this the next breakthrough in medicine?

Groups of researchers are taking a giant leap in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. They are applying an established technology ― Raman spectroscopy ― to biomedical research.

Targeting toxic waste with minerals

Aaron Celestian's research uses Raman and XRF Spectroscopy to discover which minerals to treat toxic waste with and heal our world.

Museum’s mineral studies improving life

Aaron Celestian, Ph.D.

Large vaulted ceilings, old woodwork and stained glass dating back to the early 1900s overpowers you as you walk into the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

How we customized a spectroscopy solution in the low UV range

custom spectrometer designed and built by HORIBA Scientific

The United States Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) faced a challenge. It wanted to conduct photoemission spectroscopy in the extreme low UV range using a tunable light source. It’s a difficult application. No off-the-shelf instruments existed to achieve its goals.

Fingerprint identifications lead to killers

Forensic light source

Back at the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Department, crime scene investigators processed the tickets with chemicals to make any fingerprints on them visible. 

Should you be worried about nanotoxicity?

Nanomaterials have been at the forefront of scientific research for more than a decade. These tiny materials are defined as microscopic substances measuring 1 nm to 100 nm in size. 

Companies collaborate for better water treatment

Dave Brogle of the Middlesex Water Company

Dave faced challenges managing the amount of dissolved organic material from its water source. Its main supply of raw water is the Delaware Raritan Canal. Rain events cause runoff, compounding the problem.

How do thin films help NASA uncover the secrets to the universe?

The James Webb Space Telescope

In less than two years, mankind will begin a journey that will open new doorways in its understanding of the universe.

Raman gets the goods on counterfeiters

Raman Spectroscopy identifies unknown particles in the food and drug supply

Witkowski works for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He’s a chemist with the Trace Examination Section of the Forensic Chemistry Center. His job is to make sure the food, drugs and supplements you consume aren’t tainted or counterfeit, and he uses Raman spectroscopy to do that.

Photovoltaics and photoluminescence

Photovoltaics and Photoluminescence

Watch the interview with Taylor Harvey, Ph.D., of Texas A&M University-Central Texas on Next Generation Photovoltaics

Photoluminescence contributes to staggering growth of photovoltaics

Taylor Harvey, Ph.D., of Texas A&M University-Central Texas

Taylor Harvey, Ph.D., of Texas A&M University-Central Texas, is deep into photovoltaic research.

Using renewable and alternative sources for value-added products production

Inside a small, neat lab, tucked away inside the engineering building at Rutgers University in New Jersey, a researcher is trying to use cheap and renewable sources in order to upgrade them to new useful products and fuels.

Thin film analysis reveals secrets to renewable energy

Student operating a HORIBA UVISEL Spectroscopic Ellipsometer

The result of Martin’s research could help create abundant, low-cost, clean energy on a global scale.

The best nanoparticle

The best nanoparticle video

Professor Justin Sambur, from Colorado State, talks about his group's working looking into how to best use nano materials for better...

Nanotechnology a pathway to efficient solar energy

Justin Sambur, Ph.D.

A Colorado group is tackling one of the largest issues facing us with some of the smallest materials known to mankind.

Health benefits of olive oils get boost

Ewa Sikorska is an associate professor at Poznań University

Scientists believe phenolic compounds, like those found in olive oil, can contribute to a lower rate of coronary heart disease and prostate and colon cancers.

Fluorescent carbon nanodots: making foldable displays

Doo-Young Kim, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky.

Imagine reading a newspaper with an LED-like display that folds to fit in your pocket. 

Raman spectroscopy breakthroughs make CSI real

Lednev lab

Igor K. Lednev, Ph.D. is a professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University at Albany, State University of New York. He has been developing the use of Raman spectroscopy for a variety of forensic applications.

Making more efficient solar energy

Richard Loomis, Ph.D.

Richard Loomis is trying to make a better solar cell. And he’s taken a road off the beaten path to achieve that goal.

Finding ancient life through minerals on earth and beyond

Mineral distributions determined by Raman spectroscopy

Visualize slicing a rock so thin it’s transparent to the eye. That’s what Eric Ellison must do to study which minerals host life.

Killing cancer with lanthanides and air


Imagine killing cancer cells with oxygen compounds. Then tracking the cancer’s metabolism with near ultraviolet light sources. That’s the potential result of the pioneering work by a team at the University of Nevada-Reno.

Versatile Aqualog saves chemical costs at treatment plants

Aqualog Water Treatment Plant Analyzer

The primary role of a drinking water treatment plant is to provide clean drinking (disinfected) water.

Low cost solar power on the horizon

Solar cells

A material unfamiliar to the masses may provide a huge leap in solar energy technology over the next few years.

Alternative light sources and AFIS help identify murder suspects

fingerprint identified by an alternative light source

The Indian River Sheriff’s Department in Vero Beach uses alternate forensic light sources for their investigations every day.

Researcher fights food fraud

Gene Hall is a crusader. His mission is to find mislabeled food and dietary supplement products, and reveal them to the world.

Photodynamic therapy – A non-toxic way to fight cancer

Gang Han, Ph. D, the principal investigator at Han Lab

Doctors can treat certain types of cancers with non-toxic light-emitting molecules, photosensitizers, and light. This is the essence of Photodynamic therapy, an up and coming treatment model for certain cancers.

Man of science follows business path

Andrew Whitley

Andrew Whitley is an enigma. The classically trained Ph.D. just won the prestigious Charles Mann Award from the Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies (FACSS) for his body of work. 

Fine wine-making with the help of HORIBA tech

Fine wine-making with the help of HORIBA tech

There are a lot of quality characteristics that the winemakers are interested in that relate to the color of the wine and the phenolic content – compounds that affect the wine’s taste, color and mouthfeel.

Forensic light sources nab the suspects

CrimeScope CS-16-500W

Alternative light sources used by crime scene investigators help them identify evidence left by suspects at a crime scene.

Discovering the origins of life

Andrew Czaja

The University of Cincinnati geology professor studies paleobiology – the study of ancient life. But what he’s also doing is uncovering evidence of the possibility of life beyond this planet.

Investigating missing carbon in Australian caves

Prof. Andy Baker

Researchers have focused on the terrestrial system to identify the missing carbon, such as in rivers and glaciers. Baker’s group is focusing on groundwater.

An act of mercy in Baltimore

HandScope HS LED

How a team of nurses revolutionized the investigation of strangulation cases in the area of domestic assault.

Duetta: absorbance and fluorescence - in the blink of an eye

Now, HORIBA Scientific has developed the perfect supplement for these highly capable research spectrofluorometers. 

Elemental analysis and a cold brew

HORIBA GD-Profiler 2

Elemental Analysis is a process where a sample of a material is analyzed for its elemental and sometimes isotopic composition.

SPEX Forensics algorithms used to solve cold cases

PrintQuest™ Systems include both the Automated Fingerprint Identification and Automated Palmprint Identification capabilities.

In one case, using an innovation created by SPEX Forensics, a division of HORIBA Instruments, a suspect was subsequently linked by fingerprints to 32 different outstanding felony cases.

Drilling deep to discover life

This winter, John Priscu plans to drill thousands of feet below the frozen ice of Antarctica and expects to find living creatures. If he’s successful, it could help change the way we see our planet.

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