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Identification of unknown materials in the field can be a complicated affair, especially in critical situations. It is imperative to know as much as possible about the substance quickly, yet with caution. Safety is at a premium when dealing with unknowns. Is that material toxic? Will a laser beam ignite it? Is there immediate danger to the environment? The nearest expert is far away, but the crisis is here and now—what can you do?

For both speed and safety, identification of unknown materials through containers is essential. Together, the handheld Mira DS Raman analyzer with the intelligent Universal Attachment (iUA) gives the user Content ID capabilities with a single touch. When the iUA is attached to Mira DS, the Content ID Operating Procedure activates automatically, providing the user with easy guided workflows. Content ID distinguishes the contents of the container from the container material and provides identification of both. This application note demonstrates the use of the iUA combined with Mira DS for determination of container contents, including the guided workflow and examples of Content ID spectra and results. Get safe answers in seconds with no sample contact, using a Mira DS with iUA.

The intelligent Universal Attachment (iUA) combines three focal lengths into one Smart Tip that simplifies sampling with Mira DS.

Users can safely and easily measure unknown materials through thick or thin barriers, or even on the surface:

Surface ●               <1 mm focal length

Bag ●●                   ~5 mm focal length, for sampling through a thin barrier, bag, or bottle

Bottle ●●●            ~8 mm focal length, for sampling through a thicker plastic or glass bottle, for example

Clear display of contents and container material

Intelligent iUA 3-position onscreen communication
Figure 1. Intelligent iUA 3-position onscreen communication

The iUA is a redesigned tip which offers additional functionality. Rotate the iUA, and Mira DS communicates the best use of that position for direct, simple materials ID (example shown at right). Just press the tip against the unknown material, touch “Acquire” and the system does all the work, providing answers in seconds.

Mira DS iUA Home Screen
Figure 2. Mira DS iUA Home Screen

When the iUA is attached to Mira DS, the Content ID Operating Procedure (OP) automatically becomes active on the device, and can be selected by touching "Change Procedure" and choosing the Content ID operating procedure:

Content ID Workflow
Figure 3. Content ID Workflow

Once Content ID OP is specified, Mira DS takes the user through a very simple, two-step guided workflow (example shown at right). Position the iUA below the fill line, on the outside of the container, for the first acquisition. Position the iUA above the fill line for the second acquisition. Mira DS will optimize, average, match, and report results for both the container and its contents automatically within seconds (example shown in Figure 4).

Figure 4. Content ID Results

The powerful combination of Smart Acquire, iUA, and proprietary algorithms in Mira DS provides astonishing results. Consider:

  • through-barrier testing
  • confident analysis of mixtures
  • accurate identification of major constituents in the presence of contaminants

The first example below demonstrates Content ID of a liquid mixture (cough syrup), primarily composed of ~30% w/v glycerin (glycerol) with active ingredients, through a brown plastic bottle.

Figure 5. Library spectra of Glycerin and PETE overlaid with Content ID, to demonstrate the ability of Mira DS to solve complex spectra.

Using MiraCal DS, the results show that glycerin had a spectral weight of ~41% in the Content ID result. PETE was identified within the Illicit library with a library correlation coefficient (HQI) of 0.99. The actual Mira DS screenshot results are found below.

Figure 6. Actual screenshot of Mira DS result displays for cough syrup

A second example of Content ID results is analysis of acetaminophen through its opaque white plastic bottle (below).

Figure 7. Library spectra of acetaminophen, HDPE and titanium oxide overlaid with Content ID to illustrate Content ID results.

This is a unique example because Content ID, in combination with Mixture Matching on the Mira DS, was able to analyze both container components— the plastic and the coloring agent (HDPE and titanium oxide, respectively)—in addition to a positive ID of the acetaminophen within. All components were identified with an HQI of 0.99.

Table 1. Mira DS Specifications used for the analyses displayed in this Application Note
Wavelength 785 nm
Range 400–2300 cm-1
Smart Tip iUA
Firmware version
Software version 1.1.14
Laser Power 5
Integration Time (s) 10.0
Averages 2
Library Illicit
Threshold 0.96

Metrohm AG

9100 Herisau