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Attenuated total reflectance

Attenuated total reflectance (ATR) is a sampling technique used in conjunction with infrared spectroscopy which enables samples to be examined directly in the solid or liquid state without further preparation.[1]

ATR uses a property of total internal reflection called the evanescent wave. A beam of infrared light is passed through the ATR crystal in such a way that it reflects at least once off the internal surface in contact with the sample. This reflection forms the evanescent wave which extends into the sample, typically by a few micrometres. The beam is then collected by a detector as it exits the crystal.

This evanescent effect works best if the crystal is made of an optical material with a higher refractive index than the sample being studied. In the case of a liquid sample, pouring a shallow amount over the surface of the crystal is sufficient. In the case of a solid sample, it is pressed into direct contact with the crystal. Because the evanescent wave into the solid sample is improved with a more intimate contact, solid samples are usually firmly clamped against the ATR crystal, so that trapped air is not the medium through which the evanescent wave travels, as that would distort the results.

Typical materials for ATR crystals include germanium, KRS-5 and zinc selenide, while silicon is ideal for use in the Far-IR region of the electromagnetic spectrum. The excellent mechanical properties of diamond make it an ideal material for ATR, particularly when studying very hard solids, but its much higher cost means it is less widely used.


  1. ^ FT-IR Spectroscopy—Attenuated Total Reflectance (ATR). Perkin Elmer Life and Analytical Sciences (2005). Retrieved on 2007-01-26.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Attenuated_total_reflectance". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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