Department of Chemistry's IR Microscope
and ATR Objective
This infrared microscope (micro-FTIR) is capable of obtaining an IR spectrum of organic particles as small is 200 microns, or 7.87 thousandths of an inch. It is able to analyze forensic samples non-destructively, and it can perform dual roles as a digital polarized light microscope. This device and the attached FTIR were purchased in 2005.
Devices such as this are very important in the forensic sciences. The ability to take a microscopic sample of a substance and determine what it is can mean the difference between guilt and innocence to an individual on trial.
However, this device is also important in research and development. When used in conjunction with the ATR objective lens, a whole new world opens up to scientists.
The attenuated total reflection (ATR) microscope objective uses telescopic optics to focus the visible and IR light to 20x magnification. But the real innovation is the IR-transparent germanium crystal in the center of the objective. When this is pressed against the sample, the IR light is able to measure a spectrum of the sample with very little light loss.
There is simply no other way to get an IR spectrum of the surface of an organic substance. This does not require any sample preparation, is non-destructive, and can measure particles down to 80 microns (0.08 mm).
This spectrometer and microscope combination has been used to study the environmental degradation of polyurethane plastics, plastic bonded explosive binders, adhesive residues on metal surfaces, ethylene production in ripening fruit, and organic precipitate crystal morphologies. In other words, this device can tell us how well a particular material can hold up over time.
For more information contact Dr. Darren Williams in the Chemistry Department (4-1529).
If you know of a group on campus doing innovative things with technology, please contact us. We're happy to share this information with the SHSU campus community!