ALBA Synchrotron is a particle accelerator that produces synchrotron light, ranging from infrared up to X-rays, which is trillions of times brighter than conventional sources. Synchrotron Light is an extremely powerful tool for the characterization of a wide diversity of materials and processes at atomic level. The outstanding synchrotron light properties such as high brilliance, collimation and continuous spectrum, provide unique advantages compared to conventional techniques such as faster data collection, higher spatial resolution, lower detection limits or flexible sample environments to perform in-situ measurements.
Synchrotron light applications to the hair studies as well as hair cosmetics will be shown. Infrared synchrotron radiation allows studying the biochemical structure of hair: the different biochemical components such as lipids, proteins and DNA can be studied by doing cross sections of hair. This technique offers spatial resolution not achievable with standard equipments which allows to analyze differences between the cuticle, cortex and medulla (Figure 1). Additionally, the effect of cosmetics or pollutants on the biochemical structure of hair as well as the penetration of these compounds into the hair can be monitored. Structural studies of hair at the nanoscopic scale can also be done using wide and small angle X-ray scattering at synchrotrons: studies show how the structure of lipids are different among races, for instance. Additionally, X-ray fluorescence technique using synchrotron light may help to detect metals as lead and indicate how these pollutants are distributed along the hair.
Figure 1: Image obtained with infrared synchrotron radiation: Lipid profile of a cacucasian hair. Differences among medulle, cortex and cuticle can be observed. (Kreplak et al, International Journal of Cosmetic Sience, 2001)