skip to Main Content

Analytical chemistry – now and in the future

arbete på kemiskt labb
Foto: Michal Jarmoluk, Pixabay

Today was the first of two sessions of the mini-symposium “From question to reliable answer, from problem to solution – On current aspects of analytical chemistry”, where speakers from different Swedish universities and agencies presented ongoing research projects and interesting methods within the field of analytical chemistry.

The first presentation of the day was held by Andrew Ewing, professor at the Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Gothenburg. He spoke about the use of bioanalytical electrochemistry methods to analyze e.g. single vesicles.

He ended his talk with a list of hot topics that he has identified within the field of bioelectrochemistry, such as electrochemical biosensors and nanosensors, intracellular chemical analysis and electrochemical chemiluminescence.

“The court does not want data, they want an interpretation”

Next up was Jonas Malmborg, forensic expert at the National Forensic Centre, NFC, in Linköping. He spoke about the use of analytical chemistry in court, with a focus on oil spills. In a hypothetical scenario, the aim was to prove if a certain ship was likely to be the source of an oil spill or not.

– The prosecutors want to prove that the ship caused the spill and the defence says the opposite. We have to consider both points of view while being impartial and objective, he said.

He spoke about how the lab would analyse the concentration of hopane as well as norhopane in the spilled oil and compare it to the concentration in the oil inside the ship. This would be followed by calculations of the probability that the oil comes from the ship or not.

– The court does not want data, they want an interpretation of the analysis.

In the end the court is presented with an interpretation of the likelihood of where the oil comes from.

– It will say something like: “the results are 14 times more likely if the oils have a common origin rather than different origins”, said Jonas Malmborg and added:

– It’s the same thing when we analyze fingerprints, DNA etc – the results are presented using probability ratios.

Jonas Malmborg’s presentation was followed by 7 flash presentations of PhD projects. After this Charlotta Turner, professor of analytical chemistry at Lund University, gave an overview of the results from three different surveys that were sent out to the members of the Swedish Chemical Society with questions regarding their view of analytical chemistry and analytical chemists.

Using carbon 14 to find fossil cheaters

The last presentation of the day was held by Conny Haraldsson from Research Institute of Sweden, RISE. He spoke about the organization’s new laboratory for carbon 14-determination, where IR spectroscopy will be the core technology. The instrument will be used to distinguish the origin of different fuels, plastics, chemicals etc, to see if they are made from the same amount of renewable material as they claim, and not from fossil material.

Read more about Conny Haraldsson’s research here: Cutting edge IR spectroscopy to find fossil cheaters – Svenska Kemisamfundet

The mini-symposium was organized by the Division of Analytical Chemistry at the Swedish Chemical Society. Part two of two is scheduled tomorrow, on the 4th of May, between 8.30-12 PM. Read more and register here: Mini-Symposium 2021, 3-4 May – Svenska Kemisamfundet