Institute for Future

Vibrational spectroscopy


The vibrational spectroscopy laboratory is part of the Central Analytical Research Facility (CARF). We have a range of Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) and Raman microscopes, spectrometers and accessories, and can offer expert service and advice.

Molecular vibrations involve resonant motions of the atoms about their equilibrium positions.  Every molecule is a unique arrangement of atoms and/or bonds. Therefore, in principle, each molecule has its own unique vibrational spectrum that can be used to characterise or identify and provide information on bond strength, inter and intramolecular interactions and any chemical changes that occur.

Research applications

Vibrational spectroscopy techniques have broad applications across chemistry, biology, geology and materials science.

Typical projects

  • Materials characterisation eg. 1, 2 and 3D carbon, semiconductors
  • Polymer curing kinetics and degradation studies
  • Mineralogy, aging zircons, differentiating mineral domains in heterogeneous samples
  • Biomedical applications eg. mineralisation of bones and arteries

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Laboratory coordinators

Organisational unit
Lead unit Institute for Future Environments
Raman, Vibrational, infrared, spectroscopy, characterisation, mineralogy, molecule, CARF, lab, laboratory, science, scientific, atoms, chemistry, vibration


There are two main methods used to measure molecular vibrations:

  • Infrared spectroscopy (IR or FT-IR) which involves the absorption of an infra-red photon
  • Raman spectroscopy which involves the inelastic scattering of higher energy photons.

Materials with strong IR spectra tend to give weak Raman spectra and vice versa. Thus some systems are more suited to study by one technique over the other, particularly when the different sampling requirements are taken into account.  Our expert staff can advise the most suitable method for your research.

Infrared spectroscopy

Instrument Capabilities and features
Nicolet iS50 FT-IR
Spectrometer with Continuum IR microscope
In built diamond ATR. Extensive searchable IR libraries.
Continuum IR microscope with computerised X,Y,Z-stage.
Chemical mapping to spatial resolution of 10 microns possible.
Near-, Mid- and Far-IR capability, D-TGS and MCT detectors.
Multiple accessories.
Nicolet iS50 FT-IR
Emission accessory attached 100 – 1000°C.  In situ chemical reaction kinetics, mineral transformations.
Nicolet Nexus 870 Step-scan spectrometer. D-TGS and MCT detectors.
Near-, Mid- and Far-IR capability.


  • IR Microscopy, confocal, high spatial resolution in transmission mode for thin films, reflectance mode for polished surfaces or coatings on reflective surfaces (gold silver, polished metal), and micro Ge-ATR mode for polished heterogeneous or small samples, down to 10 microns.  Diamond anvil cell for even smaller quantities.
  • Extensive searchable polymer library for polymer ID (>5700 spectra), common materials and forensics (>6500 spectra) and small molecules (>9000 spectra).
  • Kinetics - monitor reactions in real time.
  • IR accessories for every sampling requirement: diamond-ATR, Ge-ATR, grazing angle Ge-ATR, diffuse reflectance, specular reflectance; grazing angle specular reflectance
  • IR chemical mapping of surfaces and films to 10 mm resolution, by peak or functional group or spectral decomposition methods.
  • Emission IR.  Monitor reactions 100-1000°C, complement thermal measurement (DSC/TGA) by measuring the IR spectrum as a function of temperature to monitor the chemical transformations of the solid.

Raman spectroscopy

Instrument Capabilities and features
Witec Confocal
Raman microscope
532 and 785 nm excitation.  Rapid chemical imaging to 0.3 µm spatial resolution.  Confocal (depth) to better than 3 µm.  High precision piezo XYZ mapping stage 200x200x20 µm.
Renishaw inVia
Raman Microscope
532 and 785 nm excitation.  High S/N ratio spectra.
Spatial resolution <1 µm. Confocal to 5 µm. Chemical Mapping stage.
Renishaw System
1000 Raman
633nm excitation.  Hot cold stage – liq N2 temp – 600°C
Bruker FT-Raman spectrometer 1064nm excitation.  Low resolution XY view stage.


  • Raman spectroscopy with a range of excitations (532, 633, 785 and 1064 µm) and an emphasis on microscopy for small or heterogeneous samples.
  • Raman imaging (chemical mapping) of surfaces and films to <-0.5 µm spatial resolution, by peak or functional group or spectral decomposition methods.
  • Mineral analysis, polymer curing, characterisation of 2D and 3D carbon (eg. graphene, diamond like films), semiconductor characterisation, inter and intramolecular interactions, and biomaterials.

Services and equipment hire

Accessing services and equipment

Our equipment is available to staff, students and external clients at a competitive price with both self-service and full-service options. Our experienced staff can provide training, advice and guidance on the experimental process and the analysis of results, so that you achieve optimal outcomes.

Indicative 2020 pricing for commercial organisations
Equipment, service or analysisWith technician assistanceUnassisted
ATR FTIR spectra (per hour)$155Not available

Booking instructions

To arrange a consultation, refer to our booking instructions.

Contact us

Please contact the laboratory coordinator to discuss any research needs and collaboration opportunities.


Central Analytical Research Facility (CARF)

  • Postal address:
    Central Analytical Research Facility
    GPO Box 2434
    Brisbane QLD 4001