Recent “Nature” paper used photothermal based nanoscale IR spectroscopy to study 3.7 billion year remains of old life

(a) IR chemical image of the absorption intensity at 2,230 cm-1 and (b) IR absorption spectra from 900 to 2,235 cm-1, indicating the presence of organic matter embedded in meteorites.

Santa Barbara, California – August 22, 2017 – Using Anasys Instruments’ nanoIR2™, AFM based nanoscale IR spectroscopy system, researchers in the Department of Chemistry at University of Copenhagen have confirmed potentially the oldest biogenic carbon relics in Earth’s geological record. The newly published paper in Nature concluded for the first time the presence of nitrile, anhydride, and possibly phosphate bonds with spatial resolutions of 10’s of nanometers, proving the presence of 3.7 billion year old remains of biological entities.

Associate Professor Tue Hassenkam and colleagues acquired nanoscale infrared spectra of liquid and solid inclusions in a 3.7 billion year old metasedimentary rock that have been effectively isolated from the environment since the time of its metamorphism. The nanoIR2™ from Anasys Instruments was used to acquire nanoscale IR spectroscopy measurements from the inclusions. “I was surprised to discover the level of resolution I could achieve with the nanoIR2 on these samples and its contribution to our research,” stated Hassenkam.

The nanoIR2 provides nanoscale IR absorption spectroscopy using a unique method that breaks the diffraction limit of conventional IR spectroscopy by >100x. Nanoscale IR spectroscopy is able to measure a wide range of material types, ranging from life sciences to 2D materials, polymeric systems, and more.
The research is supported by Danish National Research Foundation to Nordic Center for Earth Evolution, as well as the NanoGeoScience group.
The publication can be found online at

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Anasys Instruments is the world leader in nanoscale IR spectroscopy dedicated to delivering innovative AFM based nano-spectroscopy products and solutions that measure spatially varying physical and chemical properties with nanoscale spatial resolution in a diverse range of fields, including polymers, 2D materials, materials science, life science and micro-electronics industry. Our team is focused on providing robust nanoscale chemical spectroscopy and analysis. Unlike past attempts at nanoscale vibrational spectroscopy like TERS, AFM-IR has been widely adopted in industry to solve problems. With a researcher’s productivity always in mind, we deliver integrated hardware and software solutions that clear the path to your next discovery. Nanoscale IR spectroscopy is complemented with techniques such mechanical, thermal, and electrical analysis to provide unique multi-modal capabilities. By using an AFM probe as the IR absorbance detector, Anasys has broken the diffraction limit by over 1000X to obtain FTIR spectroscopy at the nanoscale.

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