Baylor University Receives Patent to Better Analyze Sugar Samples

Feb. 10, 2012

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Contact: Frank Raczkiewicz, (254) 710-1964

WACO, Texas (Feb. 10, 2012) - Baylor University has received a U.S. patent (U.S. Patent No. 8,026,483) for a process to analyze sugar samples with a novel spectropolarimeter that combines principles of spectroscopy, polarimetry and chemometrics. The process was developed by four Baylor researchers.

Polarimeters are optical instruments that measure the rotation of plane-polarized light produced by optically-active samples like sugars. Conventional polarimeters rotate a polarizer to measure the amount of rotation directly in degrees.

"The spectropolarimeter used in our studies has no moving parts and measures the amount of rotation produced by a sample indirectly in terms of the amount of light absorbed," said Kenneth W. Busch, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Chemistry in the department of chemistry and biochemistry at Baylor University's College of Arts and Sciences, who was one of the developers of the process.

One of the problems with sugar determinations using conventional single-wavelength polarimetry is the presence of impurities that impart a dark color to the samples, Busch said.

"Our process can alleviate this problem by using the sample itself as a blank. This is significant because it can eliminate the costly step of sample clarification with lead subacetate," Busch continued. The sample clarification process produces toxic lead waste that must be disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner, adding to the cost of dark sugar analyses.

The spectropolarimeter used in the process can be easily constructed by adding a simple sample compartment with fixed polarizers to a standard diode-array spectrometer. A key aspect of the technology is the use of multivariate statistical analysis over a wide range of wavelengths extending into the near-infrared region where dark samples absorb less. Robust regression models produced by partial least squares regression (PLS-1) can predict the concentration of sugar from the measured absorption spectrum of the sample.

Other Baylor researchers who were involved in the work include Dr. Marianna A. Busch, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry; former graduate student Carlos Celleja-Amador (Baylor M.S., 2006); and Dr. Dennis Rabbe, chemistry laboratory coordinator.

About Baylor

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions.

About the College of Arts & Sciences

The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University's oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 27 academic departments and 13 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Arts & Sciences faculty conduct important research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines. Visit www.baylor.edu/artsandsciences.

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