Selecting a Spectrometer on Amazon.com
A spectrometer is an instrument used to identify and analyze a substance, either by detecting the electromagnetic radiation it absorbs or emits (as in light spectrometry) or by weighing its molecules (as in mass spectrometry). "Spectrometer" is a general term that encompasses spectrographs, spectroscopes, and spectrophotometers, among others. These instruments range from classroom models for demonstrating optical principles to smartphone attachments for field use to electronic units for high-precision analysis. They are used in chemistry, astronomy, biology, ecology, and other scientific applications.
Light spectrometers break visible light into a spectrum for analysis and measurement of wavelengths. Depending upon the complexity of the instrument, a light spectrometer may test the effect of a particular spectrum of light upon a substance and determine specific wavelengths that the substance absorbs or emits. Testing is most commonly performed in the visible, ultraviolet (UV), or infrared (IR) regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. A UV-visible (UV-vis) spectrometer tests across a range of both UV and visible light. Spectrometers vary as to the wavelength or range of wavelengths they can test and often have interchangeable filters or gratings so that a particular wavelength can be selected for an application. A spectrometer used for educational purposes usually has an analog scale for reading measurements. For improved accuracy and consistency, there are electronic models with a digital readout.
Most often used for laboratory research and clinical analysis of proteins, peptides, and other bio-molecules, a mass spectrometer analyzes gases, liquids, or solids to distinguish characteristics of individual molecules. It ionizes a sample, determines the mass-to-charge ratio (m/z) of the ions, and displays m/z values in a mass spectrum graph. These high-precision instruments are available in benchtop and floor models.
Spectrometers usually have a sample compartment that accommodates a cuvette or other container for holding samples. Electronic spectrometers offer features such as kinetics testing, qualitative analysis, integral memory, and USB output for customizing testing and collecting data. Some units have a built-in printer for plotting test results.