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Near-Infrared Spectroscopy in Laboratory and Process Analysis

Process Instrumental Methods

  1. Manel Alcalà1,
  2. Marcelo Blanco1,
  3. José C. Menezes2,
  4. Pedro M. Felizardo3,
  5. Ana Garrido4,
  6. Dolores Pérez4,
  7. Eduardo Zamora4,
  8. Celio Pasquini5,
  9. Rodolfo J. Romañach6

Published Online: 17 DEC 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a9361

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

How to Cite

Alcalà, M., Blanco, M., Menezes, J. C., Felizardo, P. M., Garrido, A., Pérez, D., Zamora, E., Pasquini, C. and Romañach, R. J. 2012. Near-Infrared Spectroscopy in Laboratory and Process Analysis. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

  2. 2

    IST - Technical University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal

  3. 3

    4TUNE Engineering Ltd., Lisbon, Portugal

  4. 4

    University of Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain

  5. 5

    UNICAMP, Campinas, Brazil

  6. 6

    University of Puerto Rico — Mayagüez, Mayagüez, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 17 DEC 2012


Near-infrared (NIR) is a spectroscopic method based on the absorption of light in the wavelength region between 700 and 2500 nm due to vibrations of molecular functional groups in the sample. These spectral features arise from overtones and combinations of the fundamental molecular vibrations of these groups that occur in the infrared (IR) at longer wavelengths. NIR is rich with features arising predominantly from vibrations of C–H, O–H, and N–H.(1)

NIR spectra are acquired by determining the absorbance, A, of light over a continuous range of wavelengths in spectrophotometers or at several specific wavelengths in fixed-filter photometers.

Absorbance is defined by the following equation:

  • equation image(1)

where I is the signal intensity from the sample relative to the signal intensity from a reference, I0.

The reference can be an empty transmission sample cell for liquids, or it can be a broadband spectral reflector, such as a white ceramic, for reflectance measurements of solids. Absorbance is usually linearly related to concentration, following Beer's Law (Equation 2):

  • equation image(2)

where ɛ represents the molar extinction coefficient, C is the concentration of the species, and l is the optical pathlength of light through the sample.

For a particular species and fixed experimental setup, ɛ and l are constants. Letting a constant, k = (ɛl)−1, then (Equation 3)

  • equation image(3)

A principal advantage of NIR over mid-IR for process applications is the ability to use fiber optics to transmit light between the instrument and the sample over considerable distance with NIR. This permits the instrument, a potential source of ignition, to be placed in safe areas where flammable vapors exist. Only the fiber-optic probe in contact with the sample and the optical fibers that connect to the instrument need be placed in the hazardous location. A disadvantage of NIR is the characteristics of the spectra, which are typically composed of broad, overlapping peaks in comparison to IR spectra. This often requires the use of sophisticated data analysis methods that place additional demands on vendors to provide stable NIR instruments and upon manufacturers and end-users to have highly trained staff, often at the PhD level, for calibration model development, implementation, and maintenance.