Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy Lab


Mineral ores collections manager Beth Goldoff studies samples under the FTIR microscope

The FTIR Laboratory at AMNH is the focal point for vibrational spectroscopy studies of geologic materials in the New York metropolitan area. The centerpiece of the lab is a Nicolet Nexus 670 Fourier Transform Infra Red (FTIR) spectrometry system with an attached IR Plan microscope (micro-FTIR system). Besides absorption and reflectance FTIR, the instrument is equipped with micro-Attenuated Total Reflectance (ATR) and micro-Grazing Angle FTIR attachments which allow measurements of sample surfaces down to a few mono-layers. The laboratory has also recently been used for polarization FTIR analysis; a powerful technique allowing for important insights into the structure of minerals.

The last twenty years has seen FTIR spectroscopy gain wide acceptance as an important analytical tool in geochemical and mineral studies. Infrared spectroscopy has long been used as a tool for structural determination of minerals and glasses. The emergence of FTIR spectroscopy as the tool of choice for the determination of dissolved H2O and CO2 in silicate glasses, however, has made it an indispensable technique for the analysis of volatile elements. Consequently, FTIR spectroscopy is used by geochemists and mineralogists to tackle problems ranging from the volatile contents of lavas in volcanic magma chambers to the structural state of H2O in minerals and melts.