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Temperature-Controlled Microscopy Enhances Research of Chemical Processes in Polar Ice

Temperature-Controlled Microscopy Enhances Research of Chemical Processes in Polar Ice content piece image
Credit: Linkam Scientific Instruments 
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Researchers at the Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) are using Linkam’s thermal analysis instrumentation to advance studies of crystallization properties and chemical reactions in polar ice, providing vital information on the changing polar ecosystem.

In response to growing scientific interest in the polar environment, KOPRI was designed to serve as a research organization that uses problem-solving mechanisms to increase public awareness about the polar regions and their role in climate change. Being the most responsive environments to global warming, the polar regions of the Antarctic and the Arctic hold a great deal of scientific interest as the world addresses the complexities of climate change.

KOPRI focuses on the intrinsic chemical reactions in polar environments, in particular in the ice phase, and their environmental implications. The laboratory uses Raman spectroscopy, confocal microscopy, FTIR microscopy and fluorescence spectroscopy in combination with Linkam temperature control stages to study samples at temperatures below their freezing point in order to observe the effects of chemical reactions in ice on the polar, and the Earth’s, environment.

Linkam’s temperature control stages, including the THMS600, LTS420 and FDCS196, are some of the most widely used heating and freezing microscope stages available and are used in a range of applications where high heating/freezing rates and 0.01°C accuracy and stability are required.

Dr. Kitae Kim, KOPRI senior research scientist and associate professor at University of Science and Technology in Korea comments: “We needed the capability of Linkam’s temperature-controlled stages for in situ, X-ray based measurement at low temperature. Linkam’s THMS500 temperature-controlled microscope stage enabled our researchers to provide direct evidence by measuring the Raman spectra in frozen samples, without thawing. The Linkam stages are easy to use and provided the results we needed. They are easy to control and very precise, which suits our needs.”

One such study used a freezing method for accelerating the peroxymonosulfate (PMS)-mediated degradation process. It found degradation of furfuryl alcohol in the presence of PMS was markedly accelerated by freezing. Dr. Kim’s research team used a confocal Raman microscope with a glass sample, mounted on Linkam’s THMS600 to decrease the temperature from 0 to −20 °C. The study concluded that the proposed PMS/freezing system can be used as an eco-friendly and practical water treatment method, especially for the degradation of pharmaceutical pollutants such as propranolol, sulfamoxole, tryptophan and sulfamethoxazole.

KOPRI scientists have also used the Linkam THMS600 and FDCS196 in a fluorescence-based iron(II) detection system to study the combination of the freeze concentration effect and N-oxide chemistry. As a result, Dr. Kim and his team developed a novel iron(II)-selective fluorescent probe, called 1-Ox, which is composed of naphthalimide and an oxidized morpholine moiety. The combination of 1-Ox with the appropriate freezing method demonstrates potential for application in the tracking of environmental iron(II) in nature, and in particular in polar and cold environments.