Microplastics - IR Microscopy Helps Exploring a Global Problem

What are microplastics? How do you recognize microplastic particles and where do they come from? Every year, megatons of microplastic particles are introduced to our oceans. The analysis of the origin and consequences of this pollution is more important and urgent than ever.

Our oceans, rivers and lakes, its inhabitants and therefore we are facing a serious problem. The increasing pollution by microscopic plastic particles that find their way into our food chain through marine animals and plants or drinking water.

These contaminations are of different origin. On the one hand, they come from the enormous amount of plastic waste that floats in our seas and constantly loses its mass due to weather and abrasion. On the other hand, there are ingredients of cosmetic products that accumulate in our waters through wastewaters.

Almost daily, the list of places where microplastics are found in high concentrations is extended. Riverbeds, natural fertilizers, soils and even drinking water also show noticeable amounts of contamination.

To investigate the origin, causes and consequences for humans and nature, FTIR microscopy has become an established standard method for the analysis of microplastic particles. It ensures a safe and easy identification of all polymer types and offers high potential for automation. Mapping and chemical imaging make it possible to determine thousands of plastic particles separated on filters within the shortest possible time and fully automatically.

External Links

Recent Article:

Press Release University of Bayreuth

Bruker's FT-IR microscopes HYPERION and LUMOS II are already being used in research institutes around the world to detect and analyze microplastics.

Let us face this global threat. Together.

Microscopic image cotton fiber
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Microscopic image of a cotton fiber and chemical identification by spectral comparison.
Polyethylene polyester fibers
Two overlapping fibers from a water sample on a cellulose filter. Integrated false color image shows distribution of polyethylene (blue), polyester (green) and filter surface (red).