FTIR spectroscopy

Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (IR or FTIR spectroscopy) is an effective analytical technique that is used to identify the functional groups in a molecule. FTIR analysis is suitable for liquids, solids and gases with covalent bonds.

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Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) is an analytical tool for material identification. The measured material (solid, liquid or gas) is subjected to an infrared light spectrum. When different molecules absorb IR light, molecular vibration occurs. Different molecules and different bonds vibrate in their own specific way. The amount of absorption and emission of IR light in the sample is measured with a detector. Collected data is representing the intensity of light as a function of the position of a movable mirror inside the interferometer. The raw data is converted to spectrum-friendly form via a mathematical process called Fourier transform. The final form represents light intensity as a function of wavenumber.

FTIR allows precise and simultaneous spectral data collection with a wide spectral range. This is made possible by a special arrangement of fixed and movable mirrors in the interferometer. The wide spectral range allows multiple frequencies of light to be directed to the sample at the same time. This makes FTIR more effective time-wise, when compared to a traditional dispersive IR spectroscopy technique. FTIR also has a higher signal-to-noise ratio and high wavelength preciseness, making it more accurate than a traditional IR spectrometer.

Often, FTIR measurement does not  require any sample preparation. For tricky samples, the material can be ground with IR transparent potassium bromide (KBr) and then pressed into a pellet form. Liquids can either be measured directly, or an IR transparent solvent can be used to make a dilution. Gas samples are placed in a cylinder shape cell, which has IR-transparent windows. 

Suitable sample matrices

  • Liquid, solid and gaseous materials
  • Organic materials, such as plastic, paper, cardboard, biomass and solvents
  • Inorganic compounds that absorb IR light

Ideal uses of FTIR

  • Identification of functional groups
  • Identification of materials
  • Comparing the chemical composition of different chemicals and materials

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Frequently asked questions

What is FTIR spectroscopy commonly used for?

This technique is used to identify the functional groups present in the sample. FTIR is suitable for the identification of polymeric materials and comparing the chemical composition of different chemicals and materials. One increasingly popular use of FTIR is identifying microplastics from water samples.

What are the limitations of FTIR?

Metals do not absorb in IR range and are therefore not suitable for FTIR spectroscopy. Complex molecules and their mixtures can not be reliably identified. FTIR also cannot detect diatomic or noble gases, such as N2 or He.

What kinds of samples can be analysed using FTIR?

FTIR spectroscopy is suitable for solids, liquids and gases.

What is Measurlabs?

Measurlabs offers a variety of laboratory analyses for product developers and quality managers. We perform some of the analyses in our own lab, but mostly we outsource them to carefully selected partner laboratories. This way we can send each sample to the lab that is best suited for the purpose, and offer high-quality analyses with more than a thousand different methods to our clients.

How does the service work?

When you contact us through our contact form or by email, one of our specialists will take ownership of your case and answer your query. You get an offer with all the necessary details about the analysis, and can send your samples to the indicated address. We will then take care of sending your samples to the correct laboratories and write a clear report on the results for you.

How do I send my samples?

Samples are usually delivered to our laboratory via courier. Contact us for further details before sending samples.