Our latest analytical acquisition, an Agilent Cary 630 FTIR with diamond ATR is proving remarkably sensitive – a real advantage when analysing small quantities of sample. The whole instrument only has the bench foot print of about 2 CDs and is light enough to be used in the field as well:
We purchased the instrument with a KBr optics option rather than ZnSe as we wanted to scan over a larger range and don’t intend taking the instrument into high humidity environments. Although this purchase was for the ATR module, there are a variety of other modules for liquid samples and quantitative analysis which are easily interchanged.
The equipment has already proved its worth in analysing thin deposits on paint surfaces and in analysing minute powder deposits on electrical cabling :
We have found that the quality of the spectra from particulates of about 500microns or even less has been excellent. The sample spectrum (in red, above) was obtained from just two barely visible particles each of about 200 microns diameter, taken from the electrical cabling shown above. From elemental analysis using SEM-EDX, the material was known to be a mixture and, unsurprisingly, the library match wasn’t particularly good. However the FTIR data, together with the elemental analysis was sufficient to conclude that the source of the white powder was from a powder fire extinguisher.
The short path length within this instrument gives quick and impressive results using only a small amount of bench space. However, having already used Agilent FTIRs with Resolutions Pro software in the past our biggest wish with this instrument is that we could directly control the data collection from Resolutions Pro software rather than the ‘simple’ MicroLab software which we don’t like – it is more limited in functionality and easy to get lost within the series of screens. Instead we have to pass the data via the Resolutions Pro launcher button every time we wish to anything useful with a spectrum and the two pieces of software store data in different Windows file paths as well as being very different in their design’s look and feel.
Overall this instrument does a very good job for a sensible price and is only let down, in our view, by the MicroLab software. For those on a small budget one can start with a single attachment and buy others later.