Infrared (IR) spectrophotometry involving IR microscopes, coupled with Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometers, is a valuable method of identifying polymeric fibers (i.e. polypropylene, polyethylene, etc.) and rubber used in synthetic equestrian surfaces. FTIR may also be used to identify organic compounds and other non-metallic elements present in the binder (i.e. high-oil wax) extracted from the surface. FTIR of wax-based binders can also detect and quantify relative degree of binder oxidation. FTIR works by detecting and interpreting the oscillations of the atoms bonded together in the molecular structure. Infrared light absorption spectra are generated from samples tested, and these spectra are compared to libraries of known polymer spectra. For bulk fiber samples, different fibers are visually separated into groups and individual fibers from each group are tested. For extracted wax, several tests are conducted to ensure consistency.
KeywordsFibers; wax; binder; equine surfaces; infrared spectrophotometry
FTIR can quickly be utilized to help identify polymeric fibers as well as some inorganic materials in addition to providing a means to monitoring changes in equine track binder sometimes inorganic, materials, in addition to observing oxidation.
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