Enhancing the Capabilities of Infrared Microscopy Apparatus


As the school year comes to a close, we are nearing the start of summer research! That is especially exciting for me and my lab team, as we move toward the next phase of our infrared microscopy project.

A Brief History of the Microscopy Project

When I first joined the Photon Spectroscopy lab over a year ago, we already had a functioning Bruker Vertex 80v Spectrometer. Also, we had just purchased a Spectra-Tech IR-Plan infrared microscope. We had no real idea if the microscope was fully functional, or if its MCT/A detector was still usable. With no guarantee of success, I began the long process of trying to form these two pieces of equipment from two different generations into one, functional, infrared microscopy apparatus. Eight months later, after countless 3D models, machine shop orders, optical mirrors, custom electronics and more, we saw our first spectrum data flash on the screen. It worked! The hard work had payed off.

Spectrometer, Bolometer, and Infrared Microscope at the William & Mary Photon Spectroscopy Lab

Spectrometer, Bolometer, and Infrared Microscope at the William & Mary Photon Spectroscopy Lab

Now that we know the apparatus is successful on a base level, it’s time to take this equipment to its full potential. First, that means adding transition optics to a Bolometer detector to ensure we can detect phonons across the full infrared range. Next, once we have a completely functional microscopy apparatus, we can start taking data.

For my own research, I plan to study ferroelectrics and chalcogenide samples. However, the possibilities for this equipment do not end with just me. Future students can use this apparatus to study interesting materials and take data on samples our lab has not studied before.

I am excited to see where this summer takes me and my research. If you are interested in following the course of my project, please look out for more blog posts in the coming months detailing the progress I have made.

-Ryan Wilmington ’18, William & Mary Department of Physics


  1. This sounds terrific! Being an undergraduate student, this must be amazing experience to not only construct but run experiments on one device. It is great to see perseverance and dedication to this project already as it looks like it has some success. As a couple questions, do you plan on accessing a wider range of wavelengths in the Infrared (and possibly bordering) region? Are you attempting to create a higher resolution of this data? And, how does microscopy relate to ferroelectrics? I hope everything goes superb!

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