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mIRage IR Microscope

Photothermal Spectroscopy Corp

mIRage – Photothermal Spectroscopy Corp

Overcoming the greatest limitations of IR spectroscopy

The mIRage is sub-micron IR spectroscopy and imaging system. O-PTIR is a proprietary technique that breaks the diffraction limit of infrared. It bridges the gap between conventional IR micro-spectroscopy and nanoscale IR spectroscopy.

  • Sub-micron IR spectroscopy and imaging
  • Non-contact – fast and easy to use
  • Transmission quality IR spectra in reflection mode
  • No need for thin sections

mIRage overcomes the greatest issues in IR microscopy:

  • Sub-micron spatial resolution
  • Measure thick samples in reflection mode
  • None of the dispersive artifacts and contact limitations of ATR

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mIRage IR Microscope


  • Polymers and composites
  • Multi-layer films – more info
  • Failure analysis and defects
  • Micro-electronics contamination
  • Life science – more info
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Forensics


  • Sub-micron spatial resolution
  • Overcomes the previous limitations of IR
  • Non-contact technique
  • Little or no sample preparation (no need for thin sections)
  • Transmission FTIR quality spectra in reflection mode
  • Combine with Raman spectroscopy – more info

mIRage at the University of Manchester

Prof. Peter Gardner, Dr Alice Spadea and Dr Johanna Denbigh with the mIRage at The University of Manchester.

[testimonial author=”Dr Alice Spadea, North West Centre for Advanced Drug Delivery, The University of Manchester”]We were very happy with all of our interactions with Blue Scientific from getting the initial quote, sorting out the design and configurations and overseeing the installation.[/testimonial]

O-PTIR Spectroscopy

Optical Photothermal Infrared spectroscopy is a fast and easy to use non-contact optical technique, which overcomes the IR diffraction limit.

How does it work?

A tunable, pulsed mid-IR laser is focused on the sample’s surface. This causes photothermal effects, which are then measured using a visible probe laser.

Advantages of O-PTIR

  • Collect data quickly and easily.
  • Non-contact based technique.
  • Spectra are comparable to FTIR, without the dispersive artifacts of ATR.
  • Samples do not need to be thin, so there’s little or no sample preparation, speeding up the process.

How O-PTIR Works

Watch a recorded webinar

How O-PTIR overcomes the two main problems of IR spectroscopy:

– Poor spatial resolution
– Time-consuming sample preparation

Dr Curtis Marcott of Light Light Solutions and Craig Prater of Photothermal present the benefits of O-PTIR.

Watch now…

O-PTIR Example

Bone sample: Reflection mode IR spectra and hyper-spectral imaging. 25 x 25 µm array, 500-nm spacing. Left: Single wavelength image (1058 cm-1) from Hyperspectral data set
Right: Single-pixel spectrum. 1s collection time

Example Applications

The mIRage provides valuable information for a wide range of applications. If your area of work is not mentioned here, please get in touch.


O-PTIR: Multilayer Polymer Film


With higher spatial resolution than traditional IR microscopy, O-PTIR is ideal for polymer science and materials development.

  • Polymer phase dispersions
  • Laminates
  • Fibres
  • Bioplastics
  • Films and layers – more details…

Left: Multilayer packaging film block face sample with spectra collected from manually selected locations, with little to no sample preparation. The spectra show the different composition of each layer.


Live Cells in Water

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Life Science

O-PTIR opens up new applications for infrared in life science. Unlike traditional IR, it’s suitable for liquid and solid samples, so it can be used to study living systems, and you can measure rough, hard, soft or sticky samples.  The visible optical beam can be focussed 20 times smaller than the IR beam, for significantly enhanced spatial resolution.

  • Live cells in water
  • Blood cells
  • Single bacterial cells
  • … and more.

Left: Live, hydrated epithelial cheek cells in water. Key macromolecules can be distiguished in the spectraand spatially isolated. A lipid inclusion as small as 0.5-1 µm is resolved easily. The spectra are not corrected for water so are inclusive of water absorbance.

More about sub-micron IR in life science

Examples of life science applications with O-PTIR

O-PTIR in Alzheimer’s Disease research

Cell type differentiation on glass slides


O-PTIR: Microplastics

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O-PTIR can measure sub-micron particles and fibres in far field reflection mode, delivering FTIR transmission-like spectral quality regardless of particle shape and size. When coupled with simultaneous Raman, it provides even more thorough and accurate characterisation of microplastics and particulates.

Left: PS and PMMA dispersed in saline.


O-PTIR: Failure Analysis

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Contamination / Failure Analysis

Identify small features, defects and contaminants on tech products of ever decreasing size, to satisfy strict control standards. O-PTIR gives you sub-micron spatial resolution in non-contact reflection mode, for product quality and process control.

Left: Failure analysis of technological components, comparing unknown O-PTIR and Raman spectra with library matches for a 6 µm defect.


Forensics fabric sample

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Analyse fibres as small as 800 nm to 22 microns, and fibres with surface treatments. Fibres can be analysed directly without modification or sampling accessories, and without the traditional problems encountered with infrared. More details…

Paint analysis with O-PTIR + Raman delivers thorough chemical characterisation of paint cross-sections, providing rich information on their organic and inorganic composition at high spatial resolution (less than 1 µm). Watch a recorded webinar…

Left: Optical image of a fabric sample. The marker points to where ~0.5 µm IR spectra were acquired using mIRage. Strong absorbance at 1732 cm-1 indicates a carbonyl stretch of polyester.


O-PTIR in Pharmaceuticals


In this drug/polymer blend sample, a reflection mode single wavelength image (50 x 50 µm) highlights distribution of the drug (dexamethasone) in a PLGA polymer matrix.


Micro-electronics Contamination

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Micro-electronics Contamination

This examples shows O-PTIR and Raman spectral information collected in reflection mode from a ~6 μm wide contamination particle. The spectra were collected simultaneously from the same spot in reflection mode. The O-PTIR spectrum is fully comparable an FTIR transmission/ATR database. Full experiment details..

Simultaneous Sub-Micron IR and Raman Microscopy – A World First

Submicron infrared can be combined with Raman for simultaneous IR and Raman on the same spot, with the same resolution. This is a world first, opening up a whole new range of research possibilities.

More about IR and Raman

IR and Raman Spectroscopy

How it Works

Watch this 2 minute video for a quick overview of how simultaneous infrared and Raman microscopy works:

Recorded Webinar

This webinar from Photothermal Spectroscopy Corp provides an introduction to O-PTIR and its benefits in a range of fields including defect and failure analysis, polymers, materials, life science, pharmaceuticals and forensics: