Saturday, March 21, 2009

FTIR Spectroscopy

FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared) Spectroscopy, or simply FTIR Analysis, is a failure analysis technique that provides information about the chemical bonding or molecular structure of materials, whether organic or inorganic. It is used in failure analysis to identify unknown materials present in a specimen, and is usually conducted to complement EDX analysis.

The technique works on the fact that bonds and groups of bonds vibrate at characteristic frequencies. A molecule that is exposed to infrared rays absorbs infrared energy at frequencies which are characteristic to that molecule. During FTIR analysis, a spot on the specimen is subjected to a modulated IR beam. The specimen's transmittance and reflectance of the infrared rays at different frequencies is translated into an IR absorption plot consisting of reverse peaks. The resulting FTIR spectral pattern is then analyzed and matched with known signatures of identified materials in the FTIR library.

Unlike SEM inspection or EDX analysis, FTIR spectroscopy does not require a vacuum, since neither oxygen nor nitrogen absorb infrared rays. FTIR analysis can be applied to minute quantities of materials, whether solid, liquid , or gaseous. When the library of FTIR spectral patterns does not provide an acceptable match, individual peaks in the FTIR plot may be used to yield partial information about the specimen.

Single fibers or particles are sufficient enough for material identification through FTIR analysis. Organic contaminants in solvents may also be analyzed by first separating the mixture into its components by gas chromatography, and then analyzing each component by FTIR.

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