Chemical Imaging & Infrared Spectroscopy

Infrared spectroscopy is a workhorse in chemical analysis, because IR spectra are characteristic for chemical compounds, and their intensities are proportional to the concentration. These features allow us to answer questions such as: What is it made of? Is it pure?

Beyond that, the IR spectra can give information about structure and function of biopolymers. Information on the spatial variation of the composition within a small sample can be obtained with the combination of a spectrometer and a microscope in a confocal setup. The result is a hyperspectral data cube where each X,Y element is associated with a spectrum, from which information about the chemical composition can be extracted. An image is then obtained by assigning each pixel a colour determined by the result of the spectral analysis. Because IR spectra contain large amounts of parallel information, different images can be plotted for individual components like protein, starch, or lipids. Unlike most conventional microscopy techniques, this process does not require any staining.

Equipment and Services

The Analytical Sciences Unit at QIB has a dedicated Vibrational Spectroscopy Lab (Room E108) with a range of equipment. Users from across the Norwich Research Park can book these instruments for their own experiments.

We provide advice on sampling, measurement, and data analysis. We also carry out one-off sample analyses for external customers and work on industrial contracts. We welcome interaction with external organisations, particularly with a view to collaboration. Please contact us for more information.


We train students and staff from the Norwich Research Park. The level of training ranges from routine FTIR spectroscopy to microscopy and advanced techniques, depending on their research. Training covers operating the instruments as well as data interpretation and analysis. More…



Dr Nikolaus Wellner
(Team Leader, Chemical Imaging)
+44 (0)1603 255 012