Discrete frequency infrared chemical imaging is transforming the practice of microspectroscopy by enabling a diversity of instrumentation and new measurement capabilities. While a variety of hardware implementations have been realized, design considerations that are unique to infrared (IR) microscopes have not yet been compiled in literature. Here, we describe the evolution of IR microscopes, provide rationales for design choices, and catalog some major considerations for each of the optical components in an imaging system. We analyze design choices that use these components to optimize performance, under their particular constraints, while providing illustrative examples. We then summarize a framework to assess the factors that determine an instrument’s performance mathematically. Finally, we provide a validation approach by enumerating performance metrics that can be used to evaluate the capabilities of imaging systems or suitability for specific intended applications. Together, the presented concepts and examples should aid in understanding available instrument configurations, while guiding innovations in design of the next generation of IR chemical imaging spectrometers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1067-1092
Number of pages26
JournalApplied Spectroscopy
Issue number9
Early online dateApr 20 2021
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • chemical imaging
  • design considerations
  • design of IR microscopes
  • discrete frequency infrared
  • Fourier transform infrared
  • Infrared microscopy
  • IR microscopy
  • optical design
  • performance metrics
  • quantum cascade laser
  • spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Spectroscopy


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