Santa Maria College


February 15th-18th 2010

Mentors: Daniel Dias, Liisa Hirvonen, Trevor Smith


The world community is very aware of the importance of conserving energy and to using less energy to minimise the impact of global warming. Governments and businesses are looking for ways of reducing energy consumption to help the environment and to increase efficiency. The wine producing industry is large in Australia. Wine bottles are also made of coloured glass, which is more difficult and expensive to recycle than clear glass. Wine bottles are made of thick glass and so are heavy compared to many other bottles and so transport costs are high due to the weight. These properties are important for the preservation and shelf-life of wine. Light is a form of energy that interacts with molecules that can cause them to break down, in the case of wine to form foul smelling and tasting chemicals.

The properties of light are also very useful for studying how much energy some molecules can absorb before they either break down or transfer electrons to produce electricity if these molecules are connected to conductive material.



Light is a form of energy that can behave as a wave and as a particle. This means that we can refer to the wavelength of light (that we relate to colour or invisible x-rays or ultraviolet light), and we can refer to light as photons, which are packages of light with a known amount of energy. This makes light very useful.

Light energy is a wave and it is able to 'excite' some molecules. These molecules become excited by absorbing the energy, and the electrons in the molecule become activated. If the electrons become displaced they can be harvested as electricity by a conductive plate.

Light from a laser can be produced with known wavelength and can be delivered with precisely known amount of energy.

Laser light of particular wavelength can interact with some molecules called fluorophores and make them fluoresce a particular colour. If certain important molecules are "tagged" with a fluorophore the molecule of interest can be made to fluoresce.


Light microscopes like the ones you use at school use light to magnify objects by passing light through a series of lenses. If laser light is hooked up with a microscope samples containing the fluorescing molecules can be seen whereas with a conventional microscope they would not be visible. This allows microscopes to identify even smaller structures in samples. The ability to see these smaller structures is called resolution and is different to magnification (which is only making something bigger).

Ultraviolet (UV-Vis)-Absorption Spectroscopy

UV-Vis spectroscopy provides information about the colour of molecules present in a solution, can identify functional groups and is routinely used in chemical and biochemical laboratories, for example to determine known/unknown concentrations of iron in a tablet. Samples are used in solution and are placed in a small quartz cell. A lamp which provides ultraviolet and visible energy is used. Radiation across the whole range is scanned by the spectrometer (200-800 nm). A reference cell containing only solvent is used. Light is passed simultaneously through the sample cell and reference cell. The spectrometer compares the light passing through the sample with that passing through the reference cell. The transmitted radiation is detected and the spectrometer records the absorption spectrum (Absorbance vs wavelength) by scanning the wavelength of the light passing through the cells.

The energies of light that are absorbed by the molecules in solution indicates what species of molecules are present. If the same solution is measured over time the spectra that are collected can tell you what is happening to the molecules in solution.

Student Itinerary

Monday 15 Feb 2010

9.30 am

Introduction to Department and research-specific to Short Wavelength Laser Program CXS and other programs.


Mentors: Trevor Smith, Liisa Hirvonen and Daniel Dias


Student Research and Discussion

Detailed look at the Wine Spectroscopy Project

Perhaps start the Microscope/Data Projector dismantling

Location: Chemistry Building 154, Ultrafast & Microspectroscopy Labs, Basement Level Room B02: Spectroscopy Lab

Tuesday 16th Feb 2010

9:00 am

Visit to Laser Facility in the Physics Department

Location: University of Melbourne

Tania Smith to find student to show students around

11:00 am

Collect spectrometry data of wine - why is it important to do the research, why is it relevant to business and ultimately to society. Perhaps prepare a sample and put in the machine.

Continue to dismantle Data Projector and microscope, understand how a microscope works and if time permits take some images.


Student Research

Location: Room B02: Spectroscopy Lab

Wednesday 17th Feb 2010

9.00 - 10.00 am

Preparation for experimental data analysis of the wine spectroscopy data


Analysis, organising data and clarifying what to use in the presentation.


Ada Yonath Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry SEMINAR Protein Crystallography

Location: Cuming Theatre, School of Chemistry, University of Melbourne

11.00am - 12.00 noon

Assess the data project material, how useful/interesting etc.

Location: Room B02 Specroscopy Lab, University of Melbourne


Student Research

Thursday 18th Feb 2010

Morning 9.00 - 10.00am

Overview of the CXS Centre

Mentors: Trevor Smith and Keith Nugent - Brainstorm

10:00am - 3.00pm

Prepare for afternoon Presentation

Location: TBA



Student Presentation


Research Report



March 29th-30th 2010

A standard Powerpoint master template to help the student groups present their work at the end of each week. The curriculum component was developed by the students.

GTP Presentation Template