Microplastics in the environment are fast coming into focus as we begin to understand just how far these manmade products have made their way into ecosystems and food chains alike. The use of plastics has been growing for decades and now small plastic microbeads are also used in everyday products such as cosmetics, toothpaste, and personal care products. Contamination in our waterways, air and food (such as bottled water) from these microplastics (1 µm to 5 mm in size) is gaining significant public interest due largely to its emergence as an environmental and potential human health threat.
While regulators are trying to understand the extent and toxicity of the problem, researchers and analytical methods bodies are working towards standardized analytical solutions to best characterize these particles in terms of chemical identity, size, shape, and total mass.
Raman spectroscopy and mid-infrared imaging using focal plane array (FPA) systems are the most common techniques for this work. While non-destructive and effective they are slow and cumbersome to use. FPA systems, for example, require multi-hour scan times to generate an image. Large quantities of data, full spectra for every pixel, are collected and frequently as much as 30 gigabytes of data must be analyzed to identify these microplastics. This takes many hours and requires a high level of analytical expertise.
There are however alternatives to these traditional techniques based on Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) technology, which provides a new approach in chemical imaging. In this webinar, we will explore how new QCL based chemical imaging systems can significantly simplify microplastics analysis through a rapid automated workflow.