How to choose a spectrometer

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The basic parameters you need to know before choosing a suitable spectrometer are:

  • Wavelength range
  • Resolution

For instance, if you need to analyze color you need a spectrometer that covers the visible spectrum from approx. 400 – 700 nm.

The resolution is the spectrometer’s ability to distinguish between two closely spaced wavelengths. So, if your spectrum has some sharp peaks that are separated by say 0.5 nm or more, you need a spectrometer with at least 0.5 nm resolution.

Some applications (like Raman and IR spectroscopy) will not list the wavelength range and resolution in nanometer (nm) directly but rather in terms of inverse cm (cm-1). For Raman you can use our RamanShift calculator to convert back and forth between nm and cm-1.

Even though you know your wavelength range and resolution there are still a lot of possible spectrometer design options. So your final choice of spectrometer will depend on the importance of parameters such as overall Size, Cost, Speed, Sensitivity, Signal-to-Noise Ratio, Dynamic range, Linearity, Thermal Stability, Robustness. Below, you can find some general guidelines that may help you determine what kind of spectrometer parameters you should focus on for you application.

Check out the different spectrometer characteristics below:

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