Spectrometer, what is it, how to choose and buy it?

November 2, 2021

spectrometer is a common tool used by various scientists to determine information about an object or substances through the analysis of their light properties. Unknown compositions broken down into basic elemental components or lights emitted from distant galaxies can be used to determine information about space objects, including their size and speed.

Spectrometers are used to separate, quantify, and analyze the spectral characteristics of a light source, providing industry-specific information based on the intensity or frequency of the light’s wavelength. They use a grating to divide the light into wavelengths of different bandwidths and channel the light through the spectrometer using built-in concave mirrors.

These high optical performance components ensure that a maximum amount of sampled light reaches a highly sensitive sensor for analysis. High-end spectrometers can even include a series of optical filters or a filter wheel to enhance the wavelength range of the equipment, allowing a greater dynamic range of light throughout the entire wavelength range of the device.

Next, we will talk in detail about one of the laboratory materials, such as the speedometer and dropper . Join us!

What is a spectrometer?

In the broadest sense, a spectrometer is any instrument that is used to measure the variation of a physical characteristic in a given range. That is, a spectrum. This could be a mass-to-charge ratio spectrum in the case of a mass spectrometer, the variation of nuclear resonance frequencies in an NMR spectrometer, or the change in absorption and emission of light with wavelength in an optical spectrometer. .

In visible light, a spectrometer can separate white light and measure individual narrow bands of color, called a spectrum. A mass spectrometer measures the spectrum of the masses of the atoms or molecules present in a gas. The first spectrometers were used to divide light into a variety of separate colors.

Spectrometers were developed in the early studies of physics, astronomy, and chemistry. The ability of spectroscopy to determine chemical composition fueled its advancement and continues to be one of its primary uses. Spectrometers are used in astronomy to analyze the chemical composition of stars and planets, and spectrometers collect data on the origin of the universe.

Examples of spectrometers are devices that separate particles, atoms, and molecules by their mass, momentum, or energy. These types of spectrometers are used in chemical analysis and particle physics.

Basic purpose of the spectrometer

Spectrometers have a variety of uses in the science industry, particularly in astronomy and chemistry . All spectrometers have three basic parts: they produce a spectrum, they spread the spectrum, and they measure the intensity of the lines produced from the spectrum. Each substance and element produces different frequencies of light and patterns that are like its own fingerprints.

Using this principle, scientists can analyze unknown substances and materials using spectrometers and then compare the results with known standards to determine the composition of the test subject.

Spectrometers are used in many industrial and commercial sectors, where precise lighting parameters are vital to meeting product specifications or health and safety standards.

History of the spectrometer

The root of the spectrometer dates back to 300 BC. C. when Euclides began to work with spherical mirrors. At the end of the 17th century, Isaac Newton coined the word spectrum to describe the range of colors obtained by scattering light through a prism. Analysis and further study of color theory continued progressively, and at the beginning of the 19th century, various scientists began to appear the first spectrometers.

Early spectrometers used a small slot and lens that passed light through a prism to refract light into a spectrum projected through a tube for analysis. Technological advancements have continually refined this tool with the most recent developments increasingly computer-based.

How to use the spectrometer

The spectrometer is quite easy to set up and use . Generally, the spectrometer is turned on and allowed to warm up completely before use. It is loaded with a known substance and calibrated at a similar wavelength to that of the known substance. Once the machine is calibrated, the test sample is loaded into the machine and a spectrum is determined for the sample.

The wavelengths are analyzed and compared to various known readings to determine the composition of the new substance. This process can be done in a similar way without loading an actual substance into a spectrometer, but simply allowing light to pass through the machine for readings. Astronomers often use this method using light from deep space.

How the spectrometer works

To accurately determine a spectrum for substances, a gaseous form of the substance must be subjected to light and a spectrum is created. So when samples are loaded into spectrometers, the high temperature of the machine vaporizes the small sample and the light is refracted according to the composition of the substance being tested. In the case of using spectrometers for astronomical purposes, incoming wavelengths and frequencies from space are similarly analyzed to determine the composition of celestial matter.

The goal of any optical spectrometer is to measure the interaction. What is, absorption, reflection, dispersion of electromagnetic radiation with a sample or the emission of electromagnetic radiation from a sample. Optical spectrometers are concerned with electromagnetic radiation that falls within the optical region of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is light that spans the ultraviolet, visible, and infrared wavelength regions of the spectrum.

To obtain the maximum information, the interaction or emission of light must be measured as a function of wavelength and therefore the common feature of all optical spectrometers is a mechanism for the selection of the wavelength. In low-cost spectrometers or in situations where precise wavelength selection is not important, optical filters are used to isolate the wavelength region of interest.

Spectrometer uses

Scientists can use spectrometers to determine the composition of any new discoveries they make. Either on Earth or in distant galaxies. For example, a complex compound substance can be analyzed and the different elemental components can be determined.

In addition, the use of spectrometry in the medical field is growing in popularity, as it can be used to identify contaminants or levels of various substances in the bloodstream to detect possible diseases or unwanted toxins.

Display technology has grown exponentially in recent years, with emerging technologies such as organic light-emitting diodes challenging the market for conventional liquid crystal displays. Digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, and televisions are later built with more vibrant displays.

Spectrometers have been instrumental in supporting this period of growth and innovation, finding use in process and quality control applications. Spectrometers are crucial to enable the growth of LEDs and SSL by maintaining optical characteristics. Or exceptional products during production, thus allowing new functionalities.

Types of spectrometers

Now that the key component of a spectrometer has been identified, the different types of spectrometer, their function and basic design can be discussed. Three of the most common optical spectrometers are featured: spectrophotometers, spectrofluorometers, and Raman spectrometers.


The term spectrophotometer can refer to a wide variety of instruments that measure light. And the exact definition depends on the area of ​​science or industry. In all cases, the term ‘photo’ is used to indicate the spectrometer. Which is for quantitative measurement of light intensity with wavelength.

The most common measurement performed on a spectrophotometer is to measure the absorption spectrum of a sample. However, the excitation monochromator is scanned and the change in light intensity is transmitted. This through the sample registered in the detector.


A spectrofluorometer is used to measure the fluorescence emission.  The terms spectrofluorometer and fluorescence spectrometer are interchangeable and different manufacturers call them by different names. A general convention is that the spectrofluorometer refers to a compact benchtop instrument that is similar in size to a spectrophotometer.

Raman spectrometer

Raman spectrometers are used to measure the Raman scattering of light from a sample. The white light source and excitation monochromator found in spectrofluorometers are replaced with a laser.

Dr. Loony Davis5
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Born and raised in Brussels in an English family, I have always lived in a multicultural environment. After several work experiences in marketing and communication, I came to Smart Water Magazine, which I describe as the most exciting challenge of my career.
I am a person with great restlessness and curiosity to learn, discover what I do not know, as well as reinvent myself daily, someone who is curious about life and wants to know. I enjoy sharing knowledge.
This is my personal project but I also collaborate in other blogs, it is the case, the most important web on water currently exists in the US, if you are interested you can read my articles here.

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