Our attention was caught by a recent article in this newsletter (Issue #7,
September, 1992) entitled “Modern Microscopy on the Light Side. The FTIR
Microscope” by Mr. Skip Palenik. Mr. Palenik makes some cogent points but we
feel there is a bit more to the story. We are spectroscopists by training
and experience and “...have done some reading and/or taken a short
course...”, but we have not “...set ourselves up as microscopists...”, at
least so far. We have, however, for the past nine years attempted to educate
microscopists, spectroscopists. chemists and even non-scientists regarding
the benefits of combining optical microscopy and molecular spectroscopy. We
are convinced the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
The very rapid acceptance of infrared microspeetroscopy by the analytical
chemistry community reflects its power to solve diverse problems. One of the
long time characteristics of infrared spectroscopy has been that its users
vary greatly in their needs and thus in the sophistication in their systems.
In connection with this, it must be realized that the fundamental laws of
physics prevent the coupling of a microscope and an infrared spectrometer,
in such a way as to optimize the performance of both, at a cost which can be
borne by all users. As a result, some infrared microscopes have "been
optimized for viewing capabilities while compromising spectroscopic
capabilities and vice versa. Such compromises are not unusual in the field
of infrared spectroscopy and the advantages gained by them constitute part
of the reason for such widespread use of infrared in chemical analysis.