Fellow blogger Derek Lowe normally writes a pretty good post, but on more than one occasion - especially when it is something related to polymers - he falls short. Today he wrote:"...even good old IR, which no one uses much any more..." It's not the first time he has bashed IR. Consider "Fellow chemists, raise your hands: Who's taken an IR spectrum in the last six months?" or "I know, for example, that hardly anyone takes IR spectra any more." or "It still does some things very well...but as far as I can tell, no one cares"
While I understand that this may be true for small molecule organic chemistry (Derek's playbox), for polymers, IR is the first go-to technique for solving the "what this polymer?" question. Slap the sample in there and take the spectrum. In less than 10 minutes, you have your answer. No solvents needed (or desired). At my last employment situation, we had multiple IR instruments (with multiple libraries) and they were in constant use. Other analytical labs are similar. Just yesterday in fact, the Polymer Solutions Blog discussed the use of IR for their customers.
Sorry Derek, IR is used far more than you realize, especially for analyzing polymers.