The Handbook

Two Reviews of 
The Handbook of Vibrational Spectroscopy

by John Chalmers of the University of Nottingham (UK),
and Peter Griffiths of the University of Idaho (USA).

John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Chichester, UK.


More than 230 articles with a total of approximately 4000 printed pages were needed to produce this up-to-date comprehensive survey of vibrational spectroscopy, which for practical reasons is published in 5 volumes.

The editors, P.R. Griffiths and J.M. Chalmers can boast of a life long career in vibrational spectroscopy; in an academic and industrial setting respectively. Together they take a comprehensive and unsurpassable view of the entire field, which made them par excellence suitable to undertake such a tremendous job as editing a Handbook of Vibrational Spectroscopy. No doubt a great amount of persuasive power had to be exercised to induce more than 300 authors from all over the world to contribute to this project The authors are man by man leading experts in the field of vibrational spectroscopy and of a high reputation. In addition, the editors them self, have made various contributions.

Each volume contains a number of sections centred on a main theme, and each of these sections consists of articles relevant to the theme. Numerous references at the end of every paper provide useful additional information.

Volume 1 entitled “Theory and Instrumentation” comprises 9 topics, of which the first one is an introduction to the theory and practice of vibrational spectroscopy made up of in total 14 papers. The very first paper covers the historical development of experimental techniques in vibrational spectroscopy. Other papers have reference to the theory of infrared and Raman, to band shapes, high resolution of gases, near and far infrared spectroscopy, etc.

Next topics are successively on instrumentation for mid-, far- and near-infrared and Raman spectroscopy, time-resolved, optical activity and surface-enhanced vibrational spectroscopy. The volume concludes with other instrumental approaches for vibrational spectroscopy and calibration procedures and standards

The focus of Volume 2 is on sampling techniques. The first section covers IR and NIR transmission spectroscopy. Sections follow on mid-infrared external, internal and diffuse reflection, other IR techniques, Raman, low temperature and high pressure sampling, and microscopy. The next sections treat depth-profiling and optical conduits, and the volume ends with hyphenated and atmospheric techniques.

Volume 3 covers “Sample characterization and Spectra Data Processing”. It opens with sections on spectra-structure correlations, spectra-structure analysis and band assignments. Next come discriminant analysis, two-dimensional (2D) analysis, spectral enhancement and band resolution techniques. The next topic is quantitative analysis, and eventually a section devoted to anomalies, artefacts and common errors in using vibrational spectroscopic techniques, and one with a glossary.

Volume 4 and 5 of the book deal with applications only. More than 70 chapters illustrate unmistakably the role vibrational spectroscopy plays in as many sectors of industry and science.

Volume 4, with focus on industry and materials, starts with sections on the analysis and characterisation of polymers and rubbers and on rheo-optical measurements of these products. Next comes material science, spectro-electrochemistry, process vibrational spectroscopy, and atmospheric and astronomical vibrational spectroscopy. Industrial and forensic applications of vibrational spectroscopy, catalysis, and other applications of vibrational spectroscopy follow. The volume concludes with vibrational spectroscopy education.

Volume 5, with focus on bio- and life sciences, starts with biomedical applications. The various papers clearly demonstrate the rapid developments of infrared and Raman in this field. The volume continues with biochemical, pharmaceutical and agricultural applications, and food science, and it ends with a glossary.

Based on the content of the handbook, it seems as though everything is there, no gaps and no missing parts. As usual for this type of work one finds 2 columns per page. This is perfect for text but too small for a standard mid-infrared or Raman spectrum, if details have to be observable. In a few cases one has chosen for a two-column horizontal presentation or a rather less convenient, vertical full-page presentation. Figures and pictures are primarily in black and white, but there are approximately 50 colour images within the handbook, where colour is critical to the interpretation of the image.

No doubt this handbook will be the premier reference book for the vibrational spectroscopist for quite some time.

John van der Maas
University of Utrecht, The Netherlands
August 2001


The Handbook of Vibrational Spectroscopy has been compiled and edited by John Chalmers of the University of Nottingham (UK), and Peter Griffiths of the University of Idaho (USA). The five volumes comprising this work consist of 46 sections, 239 chapters, 350 authors from 250 institutions, and 3572 pages. The Foreword, by Foil A. Miller is a tribute to vibrational spectroscopy as well as a verification of the magnitude of the work undertaken in producing these volumes. As Professor Miller writes, “The fact that five volumes are needed for this Handbook of Vibrational Spectroscopy is ample evidence for the extent and importance of the field. This compendium provides a valuable, detailed survey of vibrational spectroscopy and a useful review of its literature. It is an impressive achievement for which I salute the Editors and Contributors.” Indeed the work itself is first rate. My initial reaction to the chapters as I reviewed them was ‘superb.’ With few exceptions, the quality of chapter content moves from very good to exceptional. In general the chapters contain well-referenced text suitable for use at any level of spectroscopy: for the student, practitioner, or for general reference and research use. This work could be considered a true mini-encyclopedia of vibrational spectroscopy including history (with some excellent photographs), theory, examples, applications, references, abbreviations and acronyms, and terminology. Most of the chapters seem to maintain a good balance between theory and practice, with few exceptions. The liberal use of figures and tables enhances the usefulness and quality of the work. Several of the chapters include sections recommending Further Reading and Collections of Spectra. Criticisms could be made for specific chapters, yet overall these would seem petty considering the quality of the work taken as a whole.

Volume 1 entitled Theory and Instrumentation contains 69 chapters with introductory material on the theory and practice of vibrational spectroscopy (14 chapters), mid- and far-infrared (13 chapters), near-infrared (6 chapters), and Raman spectroscopy (11 chapters). The first volume also covers specialized measurement techniques such as time-resolved spectroscopy (5 chapters), optical activity spectroscopy (5 chapters), surface-enhanced vibrational spectroscopy (3 chapters), other instrumental approaches (6 chapters); and concludes with calibration procedures and standards (6 chapters).

Volume 2 describes Sampling Techniques for Vibrational Spectroscopy with 60 chapters. Detailed sections include IR and NIR transmission spectroscopy (3 chapters), mid-infrared external and internal reflectance (10 chapters), diffuse reflection (6 chapters), IR sampling techniques (4 chapters), and Raman spectroscopy (4 chapters). Specific and detailed sections are given for low and high temperature work (4 chapters), microscopy (7 chapters), depth profiling (3 chapters), optical waveguides and conduits (7 chapters), hyphenated techniques (9 chapters), and atmospheric sampling (3 chapters).

Volume 3 includes Sample Characterization and Spectral Data Processing in 34 chapters. This volume is organized in sections covering spectra-structure correlations (8 chapters), spectra-structure analysis and band assignments (6 chapters), discriminant analysis (4 chapters), two-dimensional analysis (2 chapters), and spectral enhancement and resolution techniques (3 chapters). Sections teaching aspects of quantitative analysis (7 chapters), anomalies and artifacts in spectral measurements (3 chapters), and a glossary of Terms used in Chemometrics complete the volume.

Volume 4, comprised of 46 chapters, is entitled Applications of Vibrational Spectroscopy in Industry, Materials and the Physical Sciences. This volume is quite selective in the applications addressed, covering some in great detail, while giving more or less superficial treatment to many common applications, including the vast amount of process vibrational spectroscopy that exists in today’s industrial laboratories. However, in all fairness this volume addresses many techniques that demonstrate the theory and practice of spectroscopic methods that could be applied to multiple applications not directly mentioned. The volume covers the analysis, characterization, and rheo-optical measurements of polymers and rubbers in detail with 12 chapters. Material science (6 chapters), spectroelectrochemistry (2 chapters), process spectroscopy (3 chapters), atmospheric and astronomical spectroscopy (5 chapters), and two sections covering industrial and miscellaneous applications of vibrational spectroscopy (10 chapters). Sections on forensic applications (2 chapters), catalysis (4 chapters), and vibrational spectroscopy in education (2 chapters) bring a close to the volume.

Volume 5 covering Applications of Vibrational Spectroscopy in Life, Physical and Natural Sciences in 30 separate chapters has an emphasis on very topical and cutting–edge applications of vibrational spectroscopy. Aspects of biomedical uses of spectroscopy are addressed in 10 chapters. Additional sections on biochemical applications (8 chapters), pharmaceutical applications (4 chapters), and food and agricultural sciences (two sections of 3 chapters each) are included. This volume is completed with a set of glossaries covering Terms Used in Vibrational Spectroscopy, and Abbreviations and Acronyms Commonly-used in Vibrational Spectroscopy.

This 5-volume set succeeds in compiling the knowledge and insight of many of the world’s most experienced researchers in vibrational spectroscopy. It is the most comprehensive, yet practical addition to the field of vibrational spectroscopy to date. It is much welcomed and needed as a single source for use in spectroscopic laboratories throughout the world. It combines the very essence of the best living theoretical and applied practitioners actively involved in the field today. It is an enormous and successful work and is most highly recommended for student, academic, industrial, and government analytical chemistry and spectroscopy laboratories. This is an impressive achievement and is certain to become an instant classic.

Jerry Workman, Jr., 
Senior Research Fellow, 
Kimberly-Clark Corp., WI, USA

Editor’s Note: See Spectroscopy Bookshelf for details