Spectrophotometers measure light intensity as a function of wavelength and are commonly used to measure the concentration of a compound in an aqueous solution. Depending on the type of spectrophotometer, different wavelengths of light can be analyzed. UV-Vis spectrophotometers (ultraviolet visible) measure in the UV and visible regions of the electromagnetic spectrum (190 to 380 nm and 380 to 760 nm, respectively). UV-Vis near-infrared spectrophotometers (UV VIS NIR) are also available and typically measure up to 2600 to 3300 nm.

Spectrophotometers come in both single beam and double beam configurations. A single beam spectrophotometer uses a reference standard to standardize or blank the instrument before taking measurements. A double beam spectrophotometer splits the beam of light into two different paths, one of which passes through the sample while the other passes through a reference standard. Double beam spectrophotometers measure the ratio of light intensities and, therefore, are not as sensitive to fluctuations in the light source or detector. However, single beam spectrophotometers are usually more compact and have a higher dynamic range.

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