Near-infrared spectroscopy and hyperspectral imaging: non-destructive analysis of biological materials
Near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy has come of age and is now prominent among major analytical technologies after the NIR region was discovered in 1800, revived and developed in the early 1950s and put into practice in the 1970s. Since its first use in the cereal industry, it has become the quality control method of choice for many more applications due to the advancement in instrumentation, computing power and multivariate data analysis. NIR spectroscopy is also increasingly used during basic research performed to better understand complex biological systems, e.g. by means of studying characteristic water absorption bands. The shorter NIR wavelengths (800–2500 nm), compared to those in the mid-infrared (MIR) range (2500–15 000 nm) enable increased penetration depth and subsequent non-destructive, non-invasive, chemical-free, rapid analysis possibilities for a wide range of biological materials. A disadvantage of NIR spectroscopy is its reliance on reference methods and model development using chemometrics. NIR measurements and predictions are, however, considered more reproducible than the usually more accurate and precise reference methods. The advantages of NIR spectroscopy contribute to it now often being favoured over other spectroscopic (colourimetry and MIR) and analytical methods, using chemicals and producing chemical waste, such as gas chromatography (GC) and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). This tutorial review intends to provide a brief overview of the basic theoretical principles and most investigated applications of NIR spectroscopy. In addition, it considers the recent development, principles and applications of NIR hyperspectral imaging. NIR hyperspectral imaging provides NIR spectral data as a set of images, each representing a narrow wavelength range or spectral band. The advantage compared to NIR spectroscopy is that, due to the additional spatial dimension provided by this technology, the images can be analysed and visualised as chemical images providing identification as well as localisation of chemical compounds in non-homogenous samples.