FTIR Nanospectroscopy Shows Molecular Structures of Plant Biominerals and Cell Walls

Victor M.R. Zancajo, Tom Lindtner, Max Eisele, Andreas J. Huber, Rivka Elbaum, Janina Kneipp*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Plant tissues are complex composite structures of organic and inorganic components whose function relies on molecular heterogeneity at the nanometer scale. Scattering-type near-field optical microscopy (s-SNOM) in the mid-infrared (IR) region is used here to collect IR nanospectra from both fixed and native plant samples. We compared structures of chemically extracted silica bodies (phytoliths) to silicified and nonsilicified cell walls prepared as a flat block of epoxy-embedded awns of wheat (Triticum turgidum), thin sections of native epidermis cells from sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) comprising silica phytoliths, and isolated cells from awns of oats (Avena sterilis). The correlation of the scanning-probe IR images and the mechanical phase image enables a combined probing of mechanical material properties together with the chemical composition and structure of both the cell walls and the phytolith structures. The data reveal a structural heterogeneity of the different silica bodies in situ, as well as different compositions and crystallinities of cell wall components. In conclusion, IR nanospectroscopy is suggested as an ideal tool for studies of native plant materials of varied origins and preparations and could be applied to other inorganic-organic hybrid materials.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)13694-13701
Number of pages8
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number20
StatePublished - 20 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Chemical Society.


Dive into the research topics of 'FTIR Nanospectroscopy Shows Molecular Structures of Plant Biominerals and Cell Walls'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this