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Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy

Understanding FTIR Analysis


Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) Analysis is a powerful analytical technique used to identify organic, polymeric, and in some cases, inorganic materials. The method works by measuring the absorption of infrared radiation by the sample material at different wavelengths to determine its chemical composition. This section will explain the basic principles of FTIR analysis, including how it works and what makes it a unique tool for researchers and scientists.

FTIR Analysis

Detailed Principles of FTIR Analysis

Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectroscopy is based on the principle that molecules absorb specific frequencies that are characteristic of their structure. These frequencies are associated with the vibrations of the atoms in the molecule. When infrared (IR) radiation is passed through a sample, certain frequencies are absorbed by the sample, while others are transmitted. The resulting spectrum represents the molecular absorption and transmission, creating a molecular fingerprint of the sample. Unlike traditional spectroscopy, FTIR collects all wavelengths simultaneously, which significantly reduces data acquisition times.

Process of Obtaining and Interpreting FTIR Spectra

The process begins with preparing the sample, which can be in solid, liquid, or gas form. The sample is then placed in the path of an infrared beam within the FTIR spectrometer. As the infrared light is absorbed by the sample, a detector records the wavelengths at which absorption occurred, along with the intensity of the absorption. The Fourier Transform is applied to convert the raw data into an FTIR spectrum, which displays the absorbance or transmittance of the sample across a range of wavelengths.

Interpreting an FTIR spectrum involves analyzing the positions and intensities of the absorption bands. Each peak in the spectrum corresponds to a specific vibrational mode of the molecules in the sample, providing insights into the chemical bonds and molecular structure. By comparing the spectrum to reference spectra, it is possible to identify the material’s composition or detect impurities.

Advanced Applications of FTIR Analysis

FTIR spectroscopy has evolved to address complex analytical challenges across various fields:

  • Pharmaceuticals: Characterization of drugs, polymers, and excipients, including polymorphism studies and formulation analysis.
  • Environmental Science: Detection of pollutants in water, air, and soil samples. FTIR can identify complex mixtures and monitor environmental changes.
  • Art and Historical Artifact Conservation: Analysis of materials used in art and historical objects without damaging them, aiding in restoration and preservation efforts.
  • Food Industry: Determination of fats, oils, and proteins in food products. It can also detect adulteration and ensure compliance with quality standards.

Recent Advancements in FTIR Technology

Technological advancements have significantly enhanced the capabilities of FTIR spectroscopy:

  • Portable FTIR Spectrometers: The development of handheld devices has enabled in-field analyses, crucial for environmental monitoring and on-site quality control in manufacturing.
  • Microscopy and Imaging: FTIR microscopy allows for the spatial resolution of materials at the microscopic level, enabling detailed imaging of sample composition and distribution of components.
  • Hyphenated Techniques: Combining FTIR with other analytical techniques, such as gas chromatography (GC-FTIR) or liquid chromatography (LC-FTIR), for more comprehensive analyses of complex mixtures.
FTIR Analysis


FTIR analysis is an indispensable tool in modern science and industry, offering insights into the molecular world that were previously impossible to achieve with such efficiency. Its applications across various fields underscore its importance in innovation, quality assurance, and environmental protection.