Infrared radiation extracted from a storage ring affords new opportunities for scientific exploration in the areas of geochemistry, geomicrobiology and environmental science. In this review paper, the fundamental interactions between infrared light and matter are discussed, followed by an introduction to the source properties of infrared radiation emitted from relativistically accelerated electrons in a storage ring. The most important of these properties is the brightness of the source. A bright source can deliver a higher density of photons onto a small (less than 20 μm × 20 μm) sample at normal incidence than a lab based globar source, which is necessary to produce diffraction limited spatially resolved infrared images. Alternatively, this source can couple well to grazing incidence geometry for surface science experiments affording the opportunity to examine low frequency adsorbate-substrate vibrational bands. Several examples of infrared spectromicroscopy applications and surface science applications are reviewed.