Technology Forum: FT-IR/NIR

September 8, 2009

Joining us for this discussion are Josée Labrecque, ABB; Robert Mattes, FOSS NIRSystems, Inc.; Jerry Sellors, PerkinElmer; and Haydar Kustu, Bruker Corporation.

With FT-IR/NIR continuing to find widespread use in pharmaceutical QA/QC, and with a growing handheld and portable instrumentation market further boosting growth, the market for this technique and its instrumentation is robust, with the overall FT-IR/NIR instrumentation market predicted to grow 4.3% by 2012 (SDi's Global Assessment Report, 10th Ed.).

Joining us for this discussion are Josée Labrecque, ABB; Robert Mattes, FOSS NIRSystems, Inc.; Jerry Sellors, PerkinElmer; and Haydar Kustu, Bruker Corporation.

FT-IR has recently found increased application in the area of forensics, particularly in the area of identifying the altering and adulterating of inks. Do you see other forensic applications emerging? If so, what are some?

Labrecque: A big application is food adulteration such as melamine as a protein substitute in dairy products as well as pet foods.

Sellors: The FT-IR analysis of inks is an interesting example of a forensic application, but we have seen more common applications largely in the area of drug seizure and counterfeiting. Here, apart from the possibility of rapidly identifying the drug itself, FT-IR, FT-IR microscopy, and FT-NIR imaging can potentially be used in obtaining deeper insights into the origin of the sample. Detailed examination of the drug packaging (e.g. blister packs and foils), using FT-IR microscopy and ATR imaging, is also an important aspect of drug counterfeiting studies.

Kustu: Infrared and Raman spectroscopy are among the most widely used techniques for compound identification and routine analysis in forensic science due to their high molecular identification capability and noninvasive measurement properties. The applications include, but are not limited to, discrimination of printers and inks, drugidentification, fiber characterization, paint chip analysis, fingerprint imaging, and so on. In many cases, only traces of evidence remain at the crime scene, which makes microanalysis rather important to fulfill a successful investigation.

What do you think is this most important application of FT-IR to the world at large at the moment? (i.e., identifying counterfeit pharmaceuticals, its role in semiconductor research, forensics, etc.)

Labrecque: Quality assurance for final product release.

Sellors: In terms of human health, its role in facilitating rapid screening in drug counterfeiting is certainly among the most important. Research in biomedical studies of diseased tissue via IR imaging also comes to mind. In neither of these two examples is IR the panacea, however, and one of the most fascinating aspects of FT-IR applications is their huge diversity, and for me no very clear “winners” stand out.

Kustu: FT-IR is such a well established technique for routine and research applications, that it is hard to pinpoint the most important application among many possible markets. The emerging life-science applications will become even more popular in the future, opening new markets for routine FT-IR spectrometers.

What fields should see increased application of near-infrared spectroscopy?

Labrecque: On-line continuous process monitoring.

Mattes: It seems that the biopharm industry is increasing the use of Near-IR for process analysis.

Sellors:The role in quality control in the manufacturing industry still stands out as a major and growing application of FT-NIR. The full potential of implementing more upstream materials testing is yet to be fully realized as the benefits can include not only improved quality and lower inventory costs through more thorough raw ingredient screening, but also its positive energy and environmental impact due to less wasted product. Biomedical applications will gain traction with greater adoption by the medical/regulatory community.

Kustu:Alternative and fossil fuel manufacturers will demand higher quality standards, as well as consistent, efficient manufacturing processes; similar to the growing needs of pharmaceutical, food, and agricultural markets.

What are the most important recent developments in FT-IR/NIR spectroscopy?

Labrecque:In FT-IR and FT-NIR, the most important recent developments are spectral accuracy with respect to line shapes, absorbance linearity, and frequency accuracy as well guaranteed reproducibility. An important recent development is the impressive miniaturization of FT-IR. Finally, an important development has been the optimization of performance, reliability, and ruggedness at reduced cost.

Mattes:NIR transmission in solid dosage forms (tablets) for content uniformity (CU) has become of huge interest in the tableting industry. Ten samples can be run nondestructively at-line in 3 min for CU of active pharmaceutical ingredient (API). This data can be plotted for statistical process control (SPC) throughout the tableting campaign to detect possible process deviations of CU before they become out of specification (OOS) issues.

Sellors:In the past 5 years or so, apart from the advances in miniaturization and detector technology, on the applications side, surface-enhanced techniques show some promise, but the applications are still somewhat unclear at the moment.

Kustu:Smaller and more rugged instruments are the important recent developments in infrared spectroscopy. The advancement in electronics, especially the use of 24-bit digital technology, has also improved the sensitivity. Imaging is increasingly becoming important, as the recent developments enable faster and higher resolution capabilities. The developments in sampling techniques also helped increase the use of vibrational spectroscopy in more process applications.

How has the trend toward miniaturization affected the application of FT-IR/NIR spectroscopy?

Labrecque:It has permitted us to take analysis out of the lab and be much closer to where analysis is needed, and consequently at greatly reduced turn-around times.

Mattes:The miniaturization of analyzers has produced new instruments that are smaller, faster, and perhaps cheaper, but at the cost of accuracy and precision or spectral wavelength range.

Sellors:The “first responder” application in homeland security operations is one of the most significant roles for small/portable FT-IR units. This is because despite the availability of a range of handheld Raman instrumentation, the issue of fluorescence is still an important consideration for Raman. This is particularly the case for impure, unknown materials identification.

Kustu:There is no doubt that miniaturization has opened new application areas for infrared spectroscopy; now this technique is not limited to laboratory use, and can easily be deployed in the field. On the other hand, the miniaturization trend is also affecting laboratory type instruments; my company is always considering the word “smaller” when developing next generation laboratory instruments.

What do you think?

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