Abstract

This is an unusual paper in that it does not address a particular research topic or present a novel experimental method or a new theoretical result. This paper addresses our basic understanding of the nature of the evanescent wave, the wave that is the basis of the entire field of Attenuated Total Reflection (ATR) spectroscopy. I recently had the opportunity to reexamine the foundations of ATR spectroscopy and was surprised to have had to change my own mental picture of the evanescent wave that I have built over the last 25 years. Over the years I have had numerous discussions with a large number of workers in the field as well as with my former mentor, and one of the originators and the principal developer of ATR spectroscopy, the late N.J. Harrick. Everything brought up in all these discussions was perfectly consistent with my old mental picture of the evanescent wave. Thus, I believe that the picture of the evanescent wave that I had is virtually universally held by workers in the field. This paper describes the new picture of the evanescent wave that emerged from said reexamination process.

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