FTIR Applications

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.

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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
  • Failure analysis

As an example, numerous components on automobiles are ideal for FTIR analysis: epoxies, oil coatings on parts, fuel, rubber seals and o-rings, tires, paints, fabrics (flame retardants) and exhaust emissions, to name a few.

Browse this page to learn more about FTIR applications in environment, foodforensicspharmaceuticalspolymers and plasticsquality control and general analysis.

FTIR applications

Infrared spectroscopy is a valuable technique for monitoring air quality, testing water quality, and analyzing soil to address environmental and health concerns caused by increasing pollution levels. The technique offers a “green” method of testing and fast, accurate results with the added benefit of saving money on the cost of consumables.


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.

Companies in the food and feed industries are under increasing pressure to produce products that meet customer specifications while increasing plant production and profitability. Near-Infrared spectroscopy is a solution that helps companies optimize their production process and guarantee products are meeting specifications. FT-Near-Infrared (FT-NIR) is a convenient and easy-to-use technology that makes precise results accessible to even the most inexperienced user.



International drug enforcement agencies, police departments, and customs laboratories rely on spectroscopy to quickly identify illegal drugs, crime scene evidence, banned materials, and counterfeit goods. FTIR, FT-Raman, GC-IR, and IR microscopy techniques build a complete understanding of evidence samples and allow forensic scientists to confidently give expert testimony in court.  These techniques can provide fast, easy and consistent analysis for:

  • Seized drugs: controlled substances and cutting agents
  • Clandestine labs: chemical evaluation
  • Hit and run: paint and materials
  • Textile identification: fibers, coatings, and residues

Forensic Analysis with FTIR Spectroscopy


Pharmaceutical laboratories face strong regulatory requirements and market pressures at every step along the product development pipeline. FTIR is an excellent technique for pharmaceutical analysis because it is easy to use, sensitive, fast, and helps ensure regulatory compliance through validation protocols.  Applications include:

  • Basic drug research and structural elucidation
  • Formulation development and validation
  • Quality control processes for incoming and outgoing materials
  • Packaging testing

Pharmaceutical Analysis with FTIR Spectroscopy

Polymers & Plastics
Polymers & plastics

FTIR spectroscopy is used to quickly and definitively identify compounds such as compounded plastics, blends, fillers, paints, rubbers, coatings, resins, and adhesives. It can be applied across all phases of the product lifecycle including design, manufacture, and failure analysis. This makes it a useful tool for scientists and engineers involved in product development, quality control, and problem solving. Key areas where infrared analysis adds value include:

  • Material identification and verification
  • Copolymer and blend assessment
  • Additive identification and quantification
  • Contaminant identification—bulk and surface
  • Molecular degradation assessment

Polymer Analysis with FTIR Spectroscopy

Quality Control

Infrared spectroscopy is an ideal analytical tool for both routine quality control (QC) analysis to verify if materials meet specification, and analytical investigations to identify the causes of failures when they occur. The utility of infrared for these purposes arises from the simplicity of sample analysis and data acquisition, coupled with the information-rich spectra that it provides.  Thanks to its compact design and ruggedness, FTIR instrumentation can be located in the analytical laboratory or near the production line.  With its low cost, speed, and ease of analysis, FTIR is a method of choice for many industrial applications.

Quality Control


While FTIR is frequently used for polymer testing and pharmaceutical and forensic analysis, the application of the technique is virtually limitless, offering both qualitative and quantitative analysis of a wide range of organic and inorganic samples. Whether you are a new user or an experienced spectroscopist, you can obtain high-quality spectral data  to accelerate your research, routine QA/QC testing, or investigative needs.

Browse our resources to learn more!

Spectroscopy, Elemental & Isotope Analysis Resource Library

Access a targeted collection of application notes, case studies, videos, webinars and white papers covering a range of applications for Fourier Transform infrared spectroscopy, Near-infrared spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Ultraviolet-Visible (UV-Vis) spectrophotometry, X-Ray Fluorescence, and more.

  • Knowledge Base
    Thermo Scientific Knowledge Base for Molecular Spectroscopy offers a web-based, self-help option for answering product questions, accessing documentation and resolving issues.
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