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FTIR Analysis of Shark Fin Rays

Harvard Coursework

Project Description

BE110 (Physiological Signals and Systems) final project. Project partners = Charles Alver, Kavya Pathak.

Shark finning is an incredibly wasteful business that is decimating shark populations for the sake of soup, but may be solved through tissue engineering. To recapitulate shark fin, the fin's biomechanical properties need to be understood. A key for recapitulating soup is the process by which the fin dehydrates and rehydrates, as this is a part of the cooking process.

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis can be used to analyze bond configuration and structure of biological samples. A deconvolution of FTIR data taken at various hydration states isolates the contribution of each of the different chemical bonds present in the sample. Deconvolution of the spectrum revealed significant variation in frequencies above 2000 cm-1, indicating a shift of N-H bonds in particular between fully hydrated and fully dehydrated rays. Understanding this shift in bonds is the first step to creating an appropriate synthetic substitute.

More Information

A real-time video of a dehydrated shark fin ray being rehydrated. The physical conformation of the fin itself changes drastically when rehydrated.


Using deconvolution of FTIR data at hydrated and various pdehydrated states, we compared the resulting peaks and saw where the bond conformation varied between states.

Deconvolve Diagram no deconv JPEG.jpg
Dehydrated and Rehydrated States

Scaled images of shark fin samples when hydrated and dehydrated.

FTIR spectra broken down by varying dehydration states
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