The 2016 Gold Paper Award is presented to Admir Masic (right in image) from the Max-Planck-Institute of Colloids and Interfaces (Potsdam, Germany) and James Weaver (middle) from Harvard University (Cambridge, USA) for their microscopic analysis of the teeth of the red sea urchin by WITec representative Tavis Ezell (left). Its razor-sharp, extremely hard and lifelong-regenerating biting tools have long been regarded as a model system for the study of biomineralization. To analyze the molecular and elemental composition of the teeth, the researchers used confocal Raman microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX). The combined use of these three techniques revealed the fine scale structural details of the teeth at a resolution not previously attainable. Chemical and structural data and images could be perfectly correlated: the hardest part of the T-shaped, calcium carbonate (calcite) teeth contains the highest concentration of magnesium. They conclude their report with the finding:
"The correlative Raman-SEM/EDX approach shows remarkable potential for the characterization of complex biological tissues and enables the acquisition of complementary information regarding structural complexity, elemental composition and short range chemical bonds. An "all-in-one" Raman-SEM device could therefore make this approach the method of choice for the high-throughput, "synchrotron-free" laboratory-based characterization of biological materials." WITec brought such an integrated device to market in the Fall of 2014; the Raman Imaging and Scanning Electron (RISE) Microscope.
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