Robert Kellner Lecture awarded to ABC author Bernhard Lendl
Anal Bioanal Chem
Robert Kellner Lecture awarded to ABC author Bernhard Lendl
Nicola Oberbeckmann-Winter 0 1 2 4
0 Professor Bernhard Lendl is the recipient of the 2015 Robert Kellner Lecture Award. His lecture, entitled BMid-IR quantum cascade lasers: a new enabling technology for analytical sciences
1 Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry , Springer, Tiergartenstrasse 17, 69121 Heidelberg , Germany
2 Nicola Oberbeckmann-Winter
3 was presented at the 18th European Conference on Analytical Chemistry (Euroanalysis 2015) , held in Bordeaux, France, from
4 Who is Bernhard Lendl?
Bernhard Lendl has talked about his research, his motivations, and himself to Nicola Oberbeckmann-Winter. What is the focus of your award-winning research and what was/is your motivation?
Bernhard Lendl received his PhD in chemistry from Technische
Universität Wien (TU Wien) in 1996. He was appointed associate
professor of analytical chemistry in 2001 at the same university, and from 2003
to 2004 he was guest professor at the University of Córdoba, Spain. In
2008 he co-founded QuantaRed Technologies, where he acts as scientific
director. Since 2011 he has been the head of the Division of
Environmental and Process Analytical Chemistry at TU Wien. In 2016
he was appointed full professor of vibrational spectroscopy at TU Wien.
His research focuses on the development of novel methods and
technologies based on infrared and Raman spectroscopies for use in analytical
chemistry. His current work centers on mid-IR quantum cascade lasers for
environmental and process monitoring, lab-on-a-chip systems for
timeresolved mid-IR spectroscopy, ultrasound-enhanced mid-IR fiber-optic
sensors, surface-enhanced Raman scattering, and stand-off Raman
spectroscopy. His work is summarized in more than 200 reviewed papers and
has led to six international patent applications.
Analytical chemistry is as a highly interdisciplinary
scientific discipline, which—among other things—strives to
improve the way reliable chemical information can be
obtained from samples of different kinds. An important
motivation for my research is to make use of recent
technological developments and know-how from neighboring
disciplines like solid-state electronics and physics. By
introducing and establishing these advances in the field
of analytical chemistry, I aim to elaborate new
measurement concepts and test them on real-life samples.
Because the major focus of my research concerns
midIR spectroscopy, I am particularly interested in new light
sources, notably lasers that cover the mid-IR spectral
range. Among these, quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) are
highly attractive due to their broad spectral coverage,
small size, high output power, and room-temperature
operation. I feel certain that this novel type of light source
will fundamentally change the analytical problem-solving
capabilities of mid-IR spectroscopy. For this reason, I
would like to contribute to this progress by developing
and testing new measurement concepts for gases, liquids,
and solids (imaging) at TU Wien, which take advantage of
the unique properties of QCLs. If promising new
technology emerges, I try to transfer this know-how to our
spinoff company QuantaRed Technologies for further
What is the trickiest problem you have had to overcome in
that research? How did you solve it?
When we started working with QCLs, merely research
prototypes of these lasers were available. Our friends and
colleagues from solid-state electronics, who worked on
advancing the core technology of these new light sources, clearly had
a different focus than we analytical chemists. In the beginning,
it was difficult to find a common language and a common
ground for joint activities. Furthermore, neither dedicated
electronics nor data acquisition systems were available in
my laboratory; thus it was challenging to set up the first,
meaningful experiments. I could solve these initial problems
by building an interdisciplinary research group with members
trained in chemistry, physics, solid-state electronics, and
biology, which I tried to embed in an international cooperation
From where did you start and how does your current
work relate to/differ from your scientific roots?
My scientific roots can be traced to my diploma thesis,
which I performed in the laboratory of Prof. Miguel
Valcárcel (University of Córdoba, Spain) in the field of
flow injection analysis, and to my PhD thesis under the
s u p e r v i s i o n o f P r o f . R o b e r t K e l l n e r ( Te c h n i s c h e
Universität Wien, Austria), where I started to work with
FTIR spectroscopy. During this period, I focused on
working with standard instrumentation inside a classical
analytical laboratory. These days, we try to develop new
measurement technologies and corresponding instrumentation,
which are (often) designed to be used outside an analytical
laboratory, e.g., in an industrial setting.
How would you explain your current research to a child?
Playing with something like LEGO. Assembling and
disassembling toys which we build to learn about our nature.
Where do you consider your field is heading?
Vibrational spectroscopy allows molecular-specific and
destruction-free analysis of samples of different kinds by
studying their interaction with electromagnetic radiation.
Whereas a broad variety of diverse measurement concepts
can be envisioned (ranging from stand-off detection to
nearfield imaging and from measurement of gases to solids), a
specific strength of these techniques is that portable
instruments can be designed. I see one trend in that field towards
implementation of IR and Raman-based measurement
techniques for problem solving in targeted applications that are
not necessarily incorporated in a traditional laboratory
infrastructure. No doubt there is a great future for IR and Raman
techniques in process analytical chemistry, environmental
monitoring as well as point-of-care diagnostics. A second
trend clearly points towards chemical imaging in the far- and
the near-field. In this regard and with the objective of a most
complete characterization of a given sample, we currently
envision and implement the Badvanced combination^ of
vibrational spectroscopies (IR and Raman) with techniques
providing complementary elemental (LA-ICP-MS, SEM-EDX,
etc.) and/or structural (MALDI, SIMS, etc.) information.
With Badvanced combination^ I refer to a combined
chemometric analysis of data received by different techniques
but recorded from the same areas or voxels of the sample
Which recent discovery might prove most valuable to the
field of bioanalytical research or beyond?
This is very difficult to say. Maybe for bioanalytical research
near-field mid-IR imaging, i.e., the combination of atomic
force microscopy and mid-IR laser spectroscopy, might have
the brightest future.
What motivated you to become a researcher and what do
you find most rewarding in your professional life?
The motivation to become a researcher was nourished mainly
by interest in the subject, the motivation to follow the example
of my grandfather (he was a professor of geography), as well
as the very positive examples of teachers and colleagues I had
the chance to work with in the very early stages of my career.
As most rewarding I see the independence to define my own
field of research, working with motivated young people,
enjoying an international network of colleagues and friends,
and being able to travel the world.
What is your advice for young analytical scientists today?
Try to think out of the box and do not be afraid to make mistakes.
From your personal point of view, which ABC feature do
you like (best) and why?
I like the topical collections very much. Furthermore, I enjoy
the fact that the Austrian Society of Analytical Chemistry is
co-owner of ABC.
And last but not least, what do you enjoy most when you
have time to spare?