Contemporary NIR computer correlation methods, involving the measurement of reflected energy from solid surfaces, were developed in the late 60s, mainly through the efforts of Karl Norris of the United States Department of Agriculture. This early work involved the analysis of agricultural products for moisture, protein, and fat. In that period, methods development not only required extensive time and effort involving a large population of calibration samples but also required expensive computerized data reduction. It is easy to see how these problems imposed early economic constraints on the development of the field. Today, however, there is explosive activity in the NIR field. As noted by Buchanan and Honigs, as well as others, this resurgent interest in the near-infrared region stems from the current availability of inexpensive yet powerful computers. Analytical chemists are quickly discovering that near-infrared spectra of many common materials, including industrially important materials, are considerably less complex to interpret than spectra of the natural products that gave impetus to the original development of NIR computer correlation techniques.

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