FT-IR spectroscopy is the technology of choice to identify solid and liquid phase unknown samples. The challenges of
ConOps (Concepts of Operation) in emergency response and military field applications require a significant redesign of
the stationary FT-IR bench-top instruments typically used in laboratories. Specifically, field portable units require high
levels of resistance against mechanical shock and chemical attack, ease of use in restrictive gear, quick and easy
interpretation of results, and reduced size. In the last 20 years, FT-IR instruments have been re-engineered to fit in small
suitcases for field portable use and recently further miniaturized for handheld operation. This article introduces the
advances resulting from a project designed to overcome the challenges associated with miniaturizing FT-IR instruments.
The project team developed a disturbance-corrected permanently aligned cube corner interferometer for improved
robustness and optimized opto-mechanical design to maximize optical throughput and signal-to-noise ratios. Thermal
management and heat flow were thoroughly modeled and studied to isolate sensitive components from heat sources and
provide the widest temperature operation range. Similarly, extensive research on mechanical designs and compensation
techniques to protect against shock and vibration will be discussed. A user interface was carefully created for military
and emergency response applications to provide actionable information in a visual, intuitive format. Similar to the
HazMatID family of products, state-of-the-art algorithms were used to quickly identify the chemical composition of
complex samples based on the spectral information. This article includes an overview of the design considerations, tests
results, and performance validation of the mechanical ruggedness, spectral, and thermal performance.