A series of metal gluconates (Na+, K+, Mg2+, Ca2+, Fe2+, Cu2+, and Zn2+) were investigated by terahertz (THz) time-domain spectroscopy. The absorption coefficients and refractive indices of the samples were obtained in the frequency range of 0.5-2.6 THz. The gluconates showed distinct THz characteristic fingerprints, and the dissimilarities reflect their different structures, hydrogen-bond networks, and molecular interactions. In addition, some common features were observed among these gluconates, and the similarities probably come from the similar carbohydrate anion group. The X-ray powder diffraction measurements of these metal gluconates were performed, and the copper(II) gluconate was found to be amorphous, corresponding to the monotonic increase feature in the THz absorption spectrum. The results suggest that THz spectroscopy is sensitive to molecular structure and physical form. Binary and ternary mixtures of different gluconates were quantitatively analyzed based on the Beer-Lambert law. A chemical map of a tablet containing calcium D-gluconate monohydrate and α-lactose in the polyethylene host was obtained by THz imaging. The study shows that THz technology is a useful tool in pharmaceutical research and quality control applications.
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