The results of pilot experiments carried out at the new infrared beamline SISSI (Source for Imaging and Spectroscopic Studies in the Infrared) operated at the synchrotron laboratory ELETTRA in Trieste, Italy, are presented and compared with the results obtained with conventional IR sources. The main figures of merit of the infrared synchrotron radiation (IRSR) such as brightness, spectral quality, and stability are discussed. Using a pinhole scanned across the IRSR beam, the effective beam size, the intensity, and the lateral distribution for different wavelengths are determined. The results obtained on geological and biological samples are used to illustrate how the broadband nature and high brightness of the IRSR beam allow IR spectroscopy experiments on diffraction-limited sample areas in both the mid-IR and far-IR regions.
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