Many technical fields require measurement of light intensity. If you’re in a job that needs any light wavelength measurement, then you should consider investing in an instrument called an optical spectrometer.

sunburst-155801_1280What is an optical spectrometer?

All atoms and molecules absorb and emit light at different wavelengths. An optical spectrometer can measure this. The instrument is used to measure light intensity and other properties of light. It takes in a beam of light and then breaks that light into its spectral components. The wavelengths are converted into digital signals which are displayed on the instrument panel.

How does it work?

Spectrometers measure which wavelengths are reflected and absorbed by a material. A prism inside the instrument spreads the light into a spectrum. Each unique object gives off a spectral fingerprint that allows determination of light intensity, chemical composition and other properties. Chemical compounds are determined by the amount of energy being absorbed as light.

Light is directed into the spectrometer through an opening called the slit. The light hits a concave mirror and is directed onto a grating which then disperses the spectral lines of the light onto a second concave mirror. The light is then imaged onto a detector. Photons are converted to electrons, electrons are digitized, and the digital signal is read out. Software interprets the digital signals and plots the data as a function of wavelength.

Who uses these instruments?

Most of what we know about other planets comes from optical spectrometry. Astronomers use optical spectrometers to analyze radiation emitted from astronomical objects and to determine the chemical composition of those objects.

Chemists direct laser beams at samples and use spectrometers to analyze the characteristic light source given off.

Museums use these instruments, too. These instruments can help examine all the different layers of paint in oil-on-canvas paintings to understand the original painting, new paint layers added in restoration attempts, and layers of accumulated dirt, smoke, and grime. The spectrometer analysis helps the museum develop a plan to return the painting to its original colors.

Optical spectrometers are also being used in the medical field for cancer detection, as in this example of the use of a portable instrument on biopsy tissue to detect oral squamous cell cancer.

Can I benefit from one?

Ultrafast Systems optical spectrometers are on the cutting edge of photoscience. If you’re in any field that requires a sample or material analysis, you can benefit from this state-of-the-art technology.

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