Spectrometers are analytical instruments used to identify the characteristics of materials by measuring the emissions and absorption of electromagnetic spectra. The range of spectroscopic techniques is vast, and can be subdivided by what is being measured and how it is being measured:
Atomic spectroscopy, including AA, X-ray, arc/spark, and plasma
Mass spectrometry, analysis of the dispersion of ions as they interact with the sample
Molecular spectroscopy, which encompasses IR, UV, UV-VIS, Raman, and NMR, and
The beauty of these techniques is that different technologies are often combined on one instrument to take advantage of the benefits of each, for example, IR/TOF-MS; particularly noteworthy are hyphenated techniques such as GC-MS and LC-MS.
You’ll find spectroscopic instruments being used in areas as diverse as the types of analysis.
How do I choose a spectrometer?
Specifications of spectrometers vary depending on type of technique and model, but there are a few points of interest that are applicable across the board, including the instrument’s spectral range, the dispersion of the grating or size of the spectra on the array; its spectral resolution, or ability to differentiate two overlapping peaks; and its mass range, resolution, and accuracy.
Innovations in spectroscopy technology have expanded its use in genetic variation analysis and metabolomics. Cost-effective UV-VIS polarimeters, reflectometers, and microvolume UV-VIS systems represent another area of growth. The miniaturization trend is seen in the proliferation of handheld, portable instruments, such as Raman spectrometers for use in the field.
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