A Guide to Chemical Imaging Products and QCL Technology

Since 2005, mid-infrared (mid-IR), chemical imaging and quantum cascade laser technology products from DRS Daylight Solutions have been used to support leading research and development in hundreds of industrial and academic laboratories around the world.

Mid-IR vibrational spectroscopy is a respected and commonly used technique for chemical identification and quantification. Instruments from DRS Daylight Solutions have allowed the leading scientists in their respective fields to develop entirely new areas of research as well as helping them to make breakthroughs in award-winning spectroscopy applications from climate science and chemical-threat detection through to cancer diagnostics.

DRS Daylight Solutions is a market-leading provider of integrated, turnkey microscopy, imaging and analyzer instrumentation based on QCL technology. The company is the biggest manufacturer of ruggedized QCL-based systems designed for the most demanding OEM applications.

High-Throughput, Label-Free Bio Tissue Analysis

The Spero® laser-based infrared microscope is at the forefront of improving core workflows within tissue analysis. It can measure biochemical differences within the tissue directly, without the need for fluorescent probes or stains, meaning that specimen purity is maintained for downstream genomic and proteomic analysis while at the same time making the whole workflow more streamlined.

Industrial Process Monitoring

The Spero® microscope allows for the real-time monitoring of industrial and pharmaceutical manufacturing processes, enabling non-contact, non-destructive and highly specific mapping of active pharmaceutical ingredients, polymers and excipients in tablet, powder and liquid forms.

Cancer Research

The Spero® microscope is utilized a great deal within cancer research, and it is quickly becoming a routine histological tool for digital pathology. It can rapidly detect and grade cancers within heterogeneous tissue, offering a 1,000x speed advantage over traditional FTIR imaging and a 100,000x speed advantage over Raman microscopy.

The Spero® microscope is allowing for large (over 1,000) patient validation studies for an array of conditions and diseases including kidney, lung, colon, breast, brain, prostate and skin cancers.

Outside of the area of cancer research, the Spero® microscope is allowing for high-contrast imaging of fibrosis in liver disease, as well as mapping the protein secondary structure markets associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Protein Analysis

The Spero® microscope is ideal for the quantitative measurement of proteins and their secondary structure within solid, powder and liquid forms. It is suitable for use within the whole drug development process from early-phase discovery and down-selection of monoclonal antibodies and their co-excipients through to late-phase quality control.

The microscope’s high-throughput capacity means that large designs of experiments can be conducted at early stages, helping prevent potentially costly failures in the later stage of the therapeutic development cycle.


The Spero® microscope also enables imaging through tens of micrometers of aqueous solution. When combined with the instrument’s novel video rate and discrete-frequency imaging capability, chemical reactions that show very little to no index contrast when viewed in visible to near-infrared range can now be observed and understood in real time.

Chemical Identification

Additionally, the Spero® microscope can scan a wide spectral range that corresponds to the infrared, vibrational resonances of a range of molecular organic or inorganic compounds. This extensive range allows for chemical identification of hundreds of thousands of molecules, as well as their mixtures, with micron-scale precision. This capability extends to a wide range of samples from tablets and polymers through to biological tissues, fluids and cells.

Spero® IR Microscope

When compared with FTIR spectrometers and microscopes, the Spero® microscope can provide unmatched spatial resolution, rapid-scanning and also wide-field capabilities. It can provide all this while removing any need for cryogenic cooling.

The system is orders of magnitude quicker than Raman microscopes whilst avoiding the adverse effects of auto-fluorescence.

Spero® microscopes allow new data collection modalities including real-time chemical imaging and user-defined sparse data collection. Additionally, their compact benchtop footprints make them ideal solutions for laboratories that have limited available space.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Daylight Solutions Inc.

For more information on this source, please visit Daylight Solutions Inc.


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