Infrared spectroscopy is a powerful analytical tool that was pioneered in the early 20th century. It analyzes samples by exploring interactions between matter and electromagnetic radiation in the infrared region. Today, the technique is used in both quantitative and qualitative analyses in a wide range of industries to study the chemical and molecular properties of a substance.
Application Areas of Infrared Spectroscopy
Infrared spectroscopy has become commonplace in a range of scientific fields. First, it is used in chemical analysis to identify and characterize chemical compounds. Many industries regularly use infrared spectroscopy to leverage its chemical analysis capabilities.
The pharmaceutical industry, for example, makes great use of infrared spectroscopy in its drug development processes. In pharmaceutical research, infrared spectroscopy is used to analyze novel drug formulations. It is also used in the drug production process to ensure quality control, consistency, and purity of pharmaceuticals produced.
Another field of science that heavily uses infrared spectroscopy is environmental science, where it is used both for air and water analysis as well as soil analysis. The technique can detect pollutants and contaminants in air and water samples, making it valuable for analyzing the quality of air and water - which plays a vital role in ensuring both human and environmental health. Infrared spectroscopy is also able to detect contamination in oil, as well as assess its composition.
Similarly, remote sensing uses infrared spectroscopy to monitor environmental changes from satellites and aircraft. They are used to monitor vegetation health, land use, climate-related phenomena, and more.
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In the food industry, infrared spectroscopy is frequently used in quality control processes. The technique is used to detect different forms of adulteration, as well as assess the composition and quality of food products. It can also be used to monitor freshness. Infrared spectroscopy has an additional use in the food industry - it is relied on for nutritional analysis, where it provides the nutrient content of food samples.
Materials science is another scientific field that makes great use of infrared spectroscopy. Here, it is used in polymer analysis and materials identification. It is very useful for gaining insights into the nature of materials and their properties.
In art and cultural heritage preservation, infrared spectroscopy is used to analyze the pigment and materials in artwork and cultural artifacts to facilitate restoration processes.
Finally, infrared spectroscopy is also used in security and defense applications to identify unknown substances in security screenings.
Hot Topics in Infrared Spectroscopy
There have been several recent notable developments in infrared spectroscopy that have become hot topics in the field. First, there has been a push to develop miniaturized and portable infrared spectroscopy technology so that it can be used in a wider range of applications - particularly in areas where its use on-site is beneficial (e.g., agricultural and environmental monitoring).
There is also a current trend in improving the sensitivity and speed of infrared spectroscopy platforms, enhancing their performance to continue to be relevant and useful in the broad range of industries in which they are used.
The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics into infrared spectroscopy technology is also a significant trend at present. The use of AI and data analytics can lead to more efficient data analysis and improved accuracy.
Many research groups are also developing infrared spectroscopy for use in various biomedical applications, such as those that use the technology in clinical diagnostics.
The Current Global Market of Infrared Spectroscopy
The current global market of infrared spectroscopy was valued at $0.4 billion in 2022 and is estimated to reach a valuation of $1.3 billion by 2025. Growth in the market is currently being driven by growing food safety concerns, which are driving demand for accurate and reliable devices for food safety protocols. Growth is also being driven by increasing government interest in infrared technologies, the pharmaceutical industry, and technological advancements across the board that are being leveraged into infrared spectroscopy technology to improve its offerings.
Currently, North America is the region dominating the global infrared spectroscopy market, although Asia Pacific is expected to grow at a faster rate in the coming years.
Key industry players include Agilent Technologies (US), Bruker Shimadzu Corporation (Japan), Thermo Fisher Scientific (US), PerkinElmer (US), Foos (Denmark), Microtech Instruments (US), EKSPLA (Lithuania), BaySpec (US), HORIBA Ltd, (Japan), JASCO, Inc. (US), TeraView Ltd. (UK), Spectra Analysis Instruments (US), Teledyne Princeton Instruments (US), Microtech Instruments (US), HÜNBER GmbH (Germany), Menlo Systems GmbH (Germany), Advantest Corporation (Japan), VATOP GmbH (Germany), Toptica Photonix AG (Germany), Advanced Photonix, Inc. (US).
Future Directions for Infrared Spectroscopy
While infrared spectroscopy has been around for many years, it is likely that the next decade will see many developments in the technology. Advances in technology that are leveraged by infrared spectroscopy, such as data analytics and AI, along with a demand from key adopters of infrared spectroscopy technology, will help drive innovation.
It is likely that infrared spectrometers will become smaller and more portable in the future so that they can be used for a wider range of applications. In making this technology smaller and easier to use on-site, it is likely that the technology will also become more affordable.
Additionally, infrared spectroscopy will likely become more sensitive and fast. This may result from the integration of AI and data analytics.
Infrared spectroscopy will also likely become established in novel biomedical and healthcare applications, such as those for disease diagnosis, personalized medicine, and more.
Finally, infrared spectroscopy may become increasingly important in space exploration, where it can be used to analyze celestial objects and help search for signs of life on other planets.
Infrared spectroscopy is a well-established analytical technique used in a wide range of scientific fields. Over the next decade, we will likely see continued development of the technology, which will help open it up to further applications. Infrared spectroscopy will likely continue to be an important analytical tool to many industries for decades to come, it may contribute to advances in healthcare as well as to our understanding of life in the universe.
References and Further Reading
Encrenaz, T. (2022) ‘Invited review: Infrared spectroscopy of planetary atmospheres: Searching for insights into their past and present histories’ Icarus, 376:114885. doi: 10.1016/j.icarus.2022.114885
Qi, W. et al (2022) ‘Research Progress of Applying Infrared Spectroscopy Technology for Detection of Toxic and Harmful Substances in Food’ Foods, 11(7): 930. doi: 10.3390/foods11070930
Finlayson, D. et al (2019) ‘Is Infrared Spectroscopy Ready for the Clinic?’ Anal. Chem, 91(19):12117–12128. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.9b02280