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 Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy


spectromètre IR-TF - FT-IR spectrometer Nicolet™ iS™10 ©  Thermo Scientific™

Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy can detest whether jadeite jade has been impregnated with polymer resin.

Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) is a technique which is used to obtain an  infrared spectrum of absorption or emission of a solid, liquid or gas. An FTIR spectrometer simultaneously collects high spectral resolution data over a wide spectral range. This confers a significant advantage over a dispersive spectrometer which measures intensity over a narrow range of wavelengths at a time.

The term Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy originates from the fact that a Fourier transform (a mathematical process) is required to convert the raw data into the actual spectrum.

The goal of any absorption spectroscopy (FTIR, ultraviolet-visible ("UV-Vis") spectroscopy, etc.) is to measure how well a sample absorbs light at each wavelength. The most straightforward way to do this, the "dispersive spectroscopy" technique, is to shine a monochromatic light beam at a sample, measure how much of the light is absorbed, and repeat for each different wavelength. (This is how some YV-Vis spectrometers work, for example.)

Fourier transform spectroscopy is a less intuitive way to obtain the same information. Rather than shining a monochromatic beam of light at the sample, this technique shines a beam containing many frequencies of light at once, and measures how much of that beam is absorbed by the sample. Next, the beam is modified to contain a different combination of frequencies, giving a second data point. This process is repeated many times. Afterward, a computer takes all this data and works backward to infer what the absorption is at each wavelength.

The beam described above is generated by starting with a broadbrand light source—one containing the full spectrum of wavelengths to be measured. The light shines into a Michelson interferometer - a certain configuration of mirrors, one of which is moved by a motor. As this mirror moves, each wavelength of light in the beam is periodically blocked, transmitted, blocked, transmitted, by the interferometer, due to wave interference. Different wavelengths are modulated at different rates so that at each moment the beam coming out of the interferometer has a different spectrum.

As mentioned, computer processing is required to turn the raw data (light absorption for each mirror position) into the desired result (light absorption for each wavelength). The processing required turns out to be a common algorithm called the Fourier transform (hence the name, "Fourier transform spectroscopy"). The raw data is sometimes called an "interferogram".

@ Wikipedia -