FTIR analysis

FTIR spectra reveal the composition of solids, liquids, and gases. The most common use is in the identification of unknown materials and confirmation of production materials (incoming or outgoing). The information content is very specific in most cases, permitting fine discrimination between like materials. The speed of FTIR analysis makes it particularly useful in screening applications, while the sensitivity empowers many advanced research applications.


The total scope of FTIR applications is extensive. Some of the more common applications are quality verification of incoming/outgoing materials; deformulation of polymers, rubbers, and other materials through thermogravimetric infra-red (TGA-IR) or gas chromatography infra-red (GC-IR) analysis; microanalysis of small sections of materials to identify contaminants; analysis of thin films and coatings; monitoring of automotive or smokestack emissions; and failure analysis. 

Spectroscopy in archaeology and art analysis

The preservation of art and other antiquities requires a thorough understanding of the composition of the materials involved, including the impact of previous attempts at preservation (often involving some coating intended to protect the piece). The Thermo Scientific Nicolet Summit FTIR Spectrometer is regularly used at archeological sites because of its non-destructive nature and specificity in identification, particularly of fibers and dyes. Our microscopy and sample preparation expertise have enabled analysts to penetrate deep into compositions, including frescos on walls in Pompeii and Tintoretto paintings in Venice.


You can keep your students engaged and working efficiently with the intuitive Nicolet Summit FTIR Spectrometer or other Nicolet series FTIR spectrometers and lesson plans that help you demonstrate everything from identifying different organic functional groups to understanding all the peaks in high-resolution gas phase spectra. To prevent idle time even with a limited number of spectrometers, you can have your students quickly measure samples in the crowded teaching lab and then analyze their data later remotely using the Thermo Scientific OMNIC Anywhere Cloud-based Application.

Battery materials FTIR analysis

Use FTIR analysis to perform research or quality control to help optimize your lithium battery alternatives (e.g., Li–S, Li–O2, Na-ion) and electrolyte formulations, or your catalytic systems. You can inspect product quality and collect chemical information that assures your stakeholder’s specifications have been met. The non-destructive nature of FTIR spectroscopy makes this an ideal technique for quickly catching changes that can affect battery life and safety.


With the right accessories, you can perform dynamic electrochemical studies; operate your system under operando conditions (operating live); examine catalysts under controlled environmental conditions, including temperature and atmosphere; examine the behavior of different regions of energy storage cells, or analyze gaseous emissions released under overheating/overvoltage or mechanical damage.

FTIR spectroscopy in environmental studies

Our use of plastics in everyday items and manufacturing processes has resulted in a deluge of slowly degradable materials entering our environment and our food chain. As plastics break down into tiny particles (<5 mm diameter) the consequences on human, animal, and ecosystem health need to be studied. FTIR spectroscopy has proven to be a powerful tool for researchers in this field worldwide, used for monitoring air quality, testing water quality, and analyzing soil to address environmental and health concerns caused by increasing pollution levels.


Use FTIR analysis to simplify microplastics testing and accelerate your research. We supply tools from sample collection (filers), material libraries, automated analysis, and extensive reporting for stakeholders.

Depending upon your needs, we offer FTIR libraries for particle identification, sample collection tools for aqueous sample filtration, high-speed data collection via imaging on the Thermo Scientific Nicolet iN10 Infrared Microscope, and rapid data collection and extensive reporting for large areas with the Thermo Scientific Nicolet RaptIR FTIR Microscope.

Innovative Solutions for Microplastics Analysis eBook


This eBook thoroughly explores microplastic pollution and demonstrates the impact of innovative vibrational microspectroscopy techniques on this field of research.




Food and beverage analysis

Companies in the food and feed industries are under increasing pressure to produce products that meet customer specifications while increasing plant production and profitability. 


Food manufacturers can use the infrared attenuated total reflectance (ATR) technique for rapid determination of the trans-fat content of manufactured food products. This analysis is instrumental for compliance with food labeling requirements and to help promote healthy eating habits.

Spectroscopy in forensic science

Forensic toxicology

All forensic toxicology laboratories are not created equal. Whether you need to screen and confirm known compounds, identify unknowns, or advance forensic research, we offer a solution to meet your current and future needs. 


Make complete and confident identification of seized materials and trace evidence from narcotics to paint chips. Combining both FTIR and Raman in a single system provides two SWGDRUG/SWNAT Class A Instrumental methods to positively identify physical evidence. The Thermo Scientific Nicolet iS50 FTIR Spectrometer, deployed with a diamond ATR module and spectral search libraries, can be used to rapidly identify materials. Distinguish illicit drug isomers with GC-IR and analyze complex mixtures using multi-component search with Thermo Scientific OMNIC Specta Software.

Suspicious documents

High-profile courts cases—from securities fraud to murder investigations—often hinge upon suspicious documents, requiring comparison between inks or reference databases. Counterfeit currency detection also relies upon analysis of the inks as well as the paper itself. Speed and accuracy are essential in building cases and making them stick. 

Trace evidence detection

Most materials analyses require multi-dimensional analysis to provide the full picture. Using a combination of FTIR microscopes and FTIR spectrometers can identify materials such as, paint, glass, fibers, and tapes.

FTIR and Raman Spectroscopy in Forensics and Trace Materials Analysis on-demand webinars


Know What You've Got: Unbiased Harm Reduction with FTIR

FTIR spectroscopy gas analysis

Use FTIR spectroscopy to perform gas analysis on a variety of samples, like well emissions, and ambient air monitoring.  Whether you conduct fire science research, analyze emissions, or need to verify the purity of gases for semiconductor manufacturing, FTIR spectroscopy provides the insight you need to advance your research or keep your business competitive. FTIR spectroscopy produces a spectrum for gas samples that represents the molecular absorption and transmission response to certain wavelengths of light, creating a molecular “fingerprint” of the sample. This makes the technique useful for applications that require: 

  • High sensitivity from parts per trillion to percent
  • Real-time measurements
  • Monitoring of hundreds of compounds simultaneously 
  • High dynamic range 
  • Continuous monitoring of gas samples in environmental or process applications
  • Fully automated monitoring with no need for calibration

Gas analysis methods

Air bag

The Air Bag method analyzes the effluent emitted during air bag inflation. Detection limits assume a collection time of 2 minutes with a room-temperature DTGS detector.

Ambient air

Measuring challenging compounds like ethylene oxide requires technology that avoids false alarms for benign interferences and meets standards from regulatory bodies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Successful ambient air monitoring requires the ability to discriminate target compounds down to single-digit ppb even in the presence of high concentrations of interferences, such as water, solvents, and hydrocarbons.


Aviator’s Breathing Oxygen

The Aviator’s Breathing Oxygen (ABO) method is designed to detect impurities in ABO gas according to the US Air Force military standard 1564A. This method is used with the 10-meter gas cell. Detection limits assume a collection time of 2 minutes with a room-temperature DTGS detector.


Bulk gas qualification

Measurement of trace contaminates in N₂, O₂, H₂, Ar, Kr, and CO² used in semiconductor, medical, food and beverage and energy. FTIR can simultaneously measure a wide range of contaminants down to single-digit parts per billion, and down to double-digit parts per trillion for certain semiconductor applications, using advanced technologies like StarBoost™. In addition, system-level product offerings are easily automated, providing multichannel sampling and factory reporting.


Carbon Capture, Utilization & Storage (CCUS)

Capturing and storing carbon dioxide (CO₂) can prevent its release into the atmosphere and mitigate the impact of climate change. Additionally, the utilization of captured CO₂ can help contribute to the development of a circular economy, where CO₂ is treated as a valuable resource rather than a waste product. FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared) spectroscopy can play a crucial role in CCUS by allowing industry and researchers to analyze and monitor the change in the impurity levels of captured CO₂.


Compressed breathing air

The Compressed Breathing Air (CBA) method analyzes CBA for impurities. This method is used with the 10-meter gas cell. Detection limits assume a collection time of 2 minutes with a room-temperature DTGS detector.


Engine exhaust emissions

Raw exhaust methods provide measurement of engine exhaust emissions from either spark-ignition or diesel engines. These methods cover concentration ranges found in the exhaust gas without dilution, with gas samples taken either before or after the catalytic converter. Gasoline vs Diesel methods differ in the concentration range of several components, as diesel exhaust differs from spark-ignition engine exhaust due to excess air. FTIR is an excellent technique to study Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) compounds, including NO, NO₂, N₂O, and NH₃. These methods are configured with the Thermo Scientific 2-meter gas cell and a liquid-nitrogen cooled MCT-A detector. Detection limits are based on a 3-second sample time.


Fire science

The fire science method is configured to analyze toxic gases generated during the combustion of building materials, including those defined under the EN 45545-2 Railway smoke toxicity standard. The method can be used with cone calorimeters, smoke boxes, or ambient sampling of combustion experiments. The FTIR is configured with a heated 2-meter pathlength cell for most fire science applications, or a longer-path 10-meter cell may be used for diluted samples. Detection limits are based on a 3-second sample time with a liquid-nitrogen cooled MCT-A detector.


Industrial process

Ideal for a wide range of in-process monitoring applications, FTIR provides automated end-product quality assurance in the semiconductor industry, chemical manufacturing, and air separation. Because FTIR is an optical technology that requires no calibration it can run for months or longer without any intervention. This dramatically reduces operating cost and is ideal for production facilities or remote locations.


Renewable energy

FTIR is an excellent technique for analyzing gases generated by new renewable energy developments, such as pyrolysis of wood chips or anaerobic digestion of garbage or manure. Synfuels and biogases produce environmental emissions, such as methane and other potentially harmful gases, during power generation. They also cause harmful effects on the combustion chambers or compressors. Hydrogen gas used for fuel cells must be pure of contaminants which can be detected using FTIR. FTIR spectroscopy offers powerful capabilities to analyze hydrogen, synfuel and biogas components, enabling researchers to optimize their gas generation and collection techniques.


Specialty gases

Gas applications that require high accuracy and stable calibrations can benefit from FTIR strengths. FTIR gas analysis can be used in specialty gas manufacturing, semiconductor purity testing, and identification of contaminants in O₂ or breathing air.


Source emissions

Thermo Fisher Scientific provides some of the most powerful hardware and software tools in the industry for source emissions analyses in chemical manufacturing, medical sterilization, source testing, semiconductor fabrication, gas-fired turbines, cement manufacturing, and automotive production. Whether you are running a small source testing business or looking to implement factory test methods globally, we have the FTIR solution to meet your needs. With our in-depth application knowledge, we provide real-world solutions that have you up and running on day one. This includes support for installation, QA/QC, regulatory requirements, and data validation.

Gas analysis instruments



Antaris IGS

Nicolet iG50





Bulk Gas System

Air bag





Ambient air (EH&S)






Aviator’s Breathing Oxygen




Carbon capture utlization & storage          

Compressed breathing air


Exhaust emissions






Fire science






Bulk gas monitoring





Industrial process




Renewable energy






Specialty gases


Source emissions





Geological spectroscopy

Confidently identify different grades of jade or uncover the composition of a mineral sample using FTIR spectrometers. Find out how the Investors Gemological Institute of America (GIA) uses FTIR spectroscopy for identifying treated versus untreated gemstones. 

Spectroscopy techniques and applications in life sciences

The current decade has seen incredible growth in life science research and bioformulations.  Analysis of biological samples like proteins, lipids, tissues, cells, and various cell extracts can be easily carried out using FTIR spectroscopy. Various types of analysis like protein structure elucidation, protein stability, protein-protein interaction, lipid modifications, tissue imaging, analyzing plant extracts, and many more can be accomplished with various models of Nicolet FTIR spectrometers and microscopes.  Each of the analyses mentioned may have different sensitivity, physicochemical ruggedness, and throughput requirements. We customize our offering based on every lab’s current and future requirements.

Materials science spectroscopy

Understanding a material's chemistry and characteristics is a crucial first step of many analytical processes. From automotive to microelectronics applications, our FTIR spectrometers can help you better understand the materials you’re working with. 


Some examples include characterizing new materials; measuring a variety of properties of semiconductor materials such as CO concentration and thin film thickness and concentration; investigating energy storage solutions like lithium-ion batteries; utilizing automation to measure multiple spectral ranges to measure materials from the far-IR to visible range; measuring changes in materials due to curing, oxidation, and degradation; rapidly measuring changes in the millisecond to nanosecond time scale; characterizing bio composite materials; measuring emittance from semiconductor lasers and other advanced photonic devices; and studying properties of advanced polymeric materials.

Spectroscopy in pharmaceutical analysis

It is critical in the development and production of health care products to ensure the proper ingredients and purity are maintained to protect both the consumers and your company’s reputation. The Nicolet family of spectrometers are designed to be used in research labs, at-line production, and even at the loading dock to provide the information you need to make critical decisions fast, and with confidence.


Our spectrometers enable you to perform raw material identification, differentiate between polymorphs, and analyze formulated products with specificity, speed, and reliability. With software tools to support data integrity and required validation protocols, and hardware modules designed to work 24-7-365 with minimal re-qualification needs, our spectrometers help you comply with pharmacopeia regulatory requirements while getting the job done. From the simple, on-task Nicolet Summit FTIR Spectrometer and Thermo Scientific Nicolet Apex FTIR Spectrometer systems to the fully configurable Thermo Scientific Nicolet iS50 FTIR Spectrometer, we can tune the tool to meet your needs.

On-demand webinar: Ensuring integrity of drug formulation from development to QC

Follow our speakers as they discuss where efficiencies can be made along the drug development pipeline up to final QC testing. Learn how to quickly identify changes in polymorphic structure, monitor API to excipient distribution, and troubleshoot out-of-specification (OOS) product lots, while preserving data integrity needed for audits.

Spectroscopy of polymers

Characterize the composition of polymer and chemical systems from development of new materials to root cause analysis of product failure. Understand what chemical properties you need to control when designing new materials with advanced features. Catch changes in additive formulations, degradation of multi-layer polymer composites, weakened packaging materials, and the effects of process curing times on polymer specifications.


Petrochemical and chemical labs are running complex analyses, held to rigorous standard test methods, from crude oil, natural gas, and naphtha, to a wide range of chemicals or polymers. Our analytical instruments and software products allow you to streamline your analysis and optimize your plant production output by enabling quick and definitive identification of compounded plastics, blends, fillers, paints, rubbers, coatings, resins, and adhesives; identification of material defects via multiple spectroscopic techniques and spectral identification tool, complex mixture analysis utilizing the OMNIC Specta Multi-component Search feature; and more.

FTIR research applications

Research applications require a myriad of options and flexibility. We enable design of specialized experiments and offer the full range of operations, both spectral (from the visible to the very far IR) and temporal (from msec to nsec data collection). Whether you are characterizing ultra-thin films, directing a beam through a vacuum chamber, or analyzing dynamic changes in chemical bonds the Nicolet iS50 FTIR Spectrometer can be configured to support your needs, including chemical reaction monitoring, measurement of emittance from semiconductor lasers and other photonic devices, investigation of energy storage solutions such as lithium-ion batteries, and other research applications.

Semiconductor spectroscopy

FTIR is uniquely suited to the analysis of silicon and other electronics components. Our tools can analyze wafers for the carbon or oxygen content, the epitaxial coating thickness, and more. Special designs permit handling of production wafers or smaller discs with various data collection patterns enabled. Our tools for semiconductor research include the ability to analyze wafers up to 300 mm in diameter; various analysis patterns; C, O, and EPI analysis methods (quantitative tools); analysis of 6” discs using purged accessories; and extensive experience in the field of semiconductors by FTIR.