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Take advantage of TWI's improved identification service

Connect, no. 165, March/April 2010, p.8


Recently TWI upgraded its Fourier Transform Infra-Red microscopy facility with a Perkin-Elmer system 2000 FTIR spectrometer with an i-series FTIR microscope, and a new attenuated total reflectance objective.

This enables fast, inexpensive positive identification of non-metallic materials, thus avoiding the potential embarrassment of using the wrong material.

Samples may be solid, liquid or thin film. Sample size can be down to 10 x 10 microns, or films down to a micron thickness.

Some of the samples analysed are listed below.

  • Polymers and rubber
  • Organic liquids
  • Corrosion products on PCBs
  • Multi-layer paint coatings
  • Thin films
  • Clean room contaminants
  • Composites and fibres
  • Inorganic substances
  • Adhesives
  • Quantitative determination of crystallinity and molecular orientation
  • Polymer degradation
  • Contaminants in fuel from Formula One racing cars
  • Recycled polymers

Infrared spectroscopy exploits the fact that molecules absorb specific frequencies characteristic of their molecular structure. A spectrum is recorded by passing a beam of IR light through the sample. Examination of the transmitted light reveals how much energy was absorbed at each wavelength.

Using a Fourier transformation instrument enables the measurement of all wavelengths simultaneously. A transmittance or absorbance spectrum is produced, showing at which IR wavelengths the sample absorbs.

Each material will have a characteristic fingerprint which is easily identifiable.

For further information, please contact

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