Infrared spectroscopy

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Infrared spectroscopy (IR spectroscopy) is the spectroscopy that deals with the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum, that is light with a longer wavelength and lower frequency than visible light. It covers a range of techniques, mostly based on absorption spectroscopy. As with all spectroscopic techniques, it can be used to identify and study chemicals. A common laboratory instrument that uses this technique is a Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer.

The infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum is usually divided into three regions; the near-, mid- and far- infrared, named for their relation to the visible spectrum. The higher energy near-IR, approximately 14000–4000 cm−1 (0.8–2.5 μm wavelength) can excite overtone or harmonic vibrations. The mid-infrared, approximately 4000–400 cm−1 (2.5–25 μm) may be used to study the fundamental vibrations and associated rotational-vibrational structure. The far-infrared, approximately 400–10 cm−1 (25–1000 μm), lying adjacent to the microwave region, has low energy and may be used for rotational spectroscopy. The names and classifications of these subregions are conventions, and are only loosely based on the relative molecular or electromagnetic properties.



Infrared spectroscopy exploits the fact that molecules absorb specific frequencies that are characteristic of their structure. These absorptions are resonant frequencies, i.e. the frequency of the absorbed radiation matches the frequency of the bond or group that vibrates. The energies are determined by the shape of the molecular potential energy surfaces, the masses of the atoms, and the associated vibronic coupling.

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