Tech focus: Spectroscopy

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Image credit: Forance/

Spectroscopy is the study of the absorption and emission of light by matter. It involves splitting the light into its constituent wavelengths in a similar way to a prism.

The technique is most often used to study the structures of atoms and molecules, which emit large numbers of wavelengths and so allow for the detailed investigation of their structures. It is widely used in science and academia thanks to benefits such as sensitivity, safety, non-invasiveness, cost-effectiveness and sample speed. It is a broad field that has a number of sub-disciplines, each with different spectroscopic techniques.

Components for spectroscopy include light sources, such as halogen, xenon and deuterium, depending on the wavelength range and application. Non-dispersive materials are used to filter out any non-targeted ranges of wavelengths from the source to improve resolution, while dispersive materials used include diffraction gratings and prisms. Other components include optical fibre cables.

Ocean Insight: Featured product

Ocean ST is a powerful microspectrometer that provides excellent UV response, high-speed spectral acquisition, and high SNR performance in an ultra-compact footprint. Despite its small size and light weight, Ocean ST delivers full spectral analysis at a performance level comparable to larger and more expensive spectrometers. Ocean ST is ideal for lab use and integration into setups where space is limited, with applications from DNA absorbance to laser characterization.

Ocean ST models are available for UV, visible and NIR wavelength coverage, offering great application flexibility. Also, the replaceable slit design allows users to optimize the optical resolution and throughput of their setup.

The Ocean ST microspectrometer is compatible with Ocean Insight light sources, accessories and OceanView software, allowing users to mix and match components for different applications. Its rugged design, thermal stability and unit-to-unit reproducibility make the Ocean ST an appealing choice for embedding into other instrumentation and process operations.

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Lambda Research: Featured product

TracePro combines Monte Carlo ray tracing, analysis, CAD import/export, and optimisation  methods with a complete and robust macro language to solve a wide variety of problems in illumination design and optical analysis. TracePro offers luminaire and illumination designers the most accurate and comprehensive design environment available.

Luminaire design requires strict adherence to system performance criteria, including spatial and angular light distributions, uniformity, luminance, and spectral characteristics, along with aesthetic factors, such as lit and unlit appearance. With TracePro, you have the power to accurately simulate the lit appearance of your product, and reduce costly trial-and-error prototyping. Instead, you can virtually prototype with photorealistic rendering.

Whether you are designing an instrument panel, light pipes for switches or indicators, or automotive lighting, TracePro can accurately model the appearance of your design with photorealistic accuracy.

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Commercial products

Vendors of products and solutions for spectroscopy include Armadillo SIA, a manufacturer of specialised optical fibre, subassemblies, and hybrid photonic solutions. The company’s fibres are used in a wide range of spectroscopy applications including chemical processing, pollution and contaminant monitoring, and pharmaceutical testing. Its bundles for NIR spectroscopy are also widely implemented in food and chemical analysis.

Art Photonics specialises in the development and production of speciality fibre products for a broad spectrum from 300nm to 16µm. Polycrystalline mid-infrared (PIR-) fibres and metal coated silica fibres are used for the assembly of various spectroscopy probes for medical diagnostics and industrial process control, and in volume production for medical and industrial lasers.

Avantes specialises in high-end fibre-optic spectroscopy systems that facilitate measurements in the ultra-violet, visible, and near-infrared wavelengths. The company can offer instruments with a small form factor to integrate into other devices as part of its CompactLine range, while high-sensitivity instruments for more demanding applications are available as part of the SensLine range. Spectrometers especially configured for the near-infrared range can be found in the NIRLine suite, and StarLine spectrometers are designed to be versatile for general spectroscopy applications.

CeNing Optics is an optical company that produces high-quality optical components. Products include prisms, lenses, windows, beamsplitters, wave plates, polarisers, mirrors, and filters. Both standard and custom designs are available.

Coherent offers a broad range of spectroscopy lasers, designed to provide the perfect match for LIBS, MALDI-TOF, Raman, CARS, SRS, LA-ICP-MS, and more. The company’s extended raman range includes narrow-line lasers, filters, and complete modules, including THz-Raman tools, while its MALDI-TOF range can maximise TOF resolution with the short (~1ns) pulse flare ytterbium laser. The flexible LA-ICP-MS range can analyse solid samples with maximum mass resolution using a femtosecond laser amplifier.

Delta Photonics is a distributor of lasers, optics, instruments, optomechanics, and scientific cameras. The company provides spectroscopy equipment for applications such as LIBS, Raman, fluorescence, phosphorescence, photoluminescence, plasma emission, transmission, absorption, and reflectance. Spectrometers can be miniature fibre optic or large flexible systems. The company carries products from partners including Avantes, Applied PhotoPhysics, Edinburgh Instruments and Teledyne Princeton Instruments.

GWU-Lasertechnik’s range of CCD-based spectrometers has a number of features to fulfil a variety of applications. The detection range covers the UV to near-infrared spectrum and reaches out to the mid-infrared at 2µm. Models are available with a very small footprint, and thermo-electric (TE) cooled devices with high resolution, high sensitivity and ultra-low noise for weak-light applications – such as fluorescence sensing or Raman analysis – can also be offered.

Hamamatsu Photonics offers more than 20 different types of spectrometers, covering the UV to NIR ranges. Its mini-spectrometers are compact and low-cost spectrometers (polychromators). Suitable for applications such as environmental measurement, colour measurement, quality control in production lines, information devices and chemistry. The company’s FTIR engine has a Michelson optical interferometer and control circuit built into a palm-sized enclosure. Spectrum and absorbance can be measured by connecting a PC via USB. The FTIR engine will assist in creating portable, handheld FTIR spectrophotometers for analytical applications.

Horiba Scientific offers high-quality spectrometers, monochromators and spectrographs. Its spectroscopy products span cathodoluminescence, Raman spectroscopy, AFM-Raman, fluorescence spectroscopy, photoluminescence spectroscopy, vacuum UV, monochromator and spectrograph, detectors, x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) and spectroscopic ellipsometry. Components such as diffraction gratings are also available.

Ibsen Photonics is a partner for high-volume OEM supply of spectrometers and transmission gratings. The company provides fused silica transmission gratings such as phase masks, telecom, PCG and spectrometer gratings. It also offers a wide range of robust, athermal, industrial grade OEM spectrometers that can be tailored to the user’s exact needs. The spectrometers are based on a range of basic platforms as well as the Rock, Freedom, Pebble, Peak, and Eagle series of standard spectrometer configurations.

Klar Scientific’s instruments target scientists and engineers with more modest budgets, whose primary interest is in photoluminescence but who occasionally need to make a Raman measurement as well. The company provides a Raman spectroscopy kit at 532nm, which includes a powerful laser and more sensitive spectrometer. For users whose needs span multiple types of spectroscopy, Klar’s reconfigurable, modular instruments can be a cost-effective solution.

Laser Quantum manufactures suitable lasers for Raman spectroscopy, including 473, 532, 660 and 671nm wavelengths. The Gem family is ideal for OEM integration, while Ventus lasers are better suited to scientific and research applications.

NKT Photonics offers broadband white light lasers, which are ideal for spectroscopy. Its range of SuperK Fianium supercontinuum white light lasers are broadband as a lamp and bright as a laser. They deliver high-brightness, diffraction-limited light in the entire 390–2,400nm region. By adding one of its filters, the SuperK can be converted into an ultra-tunable laser with up to 16 simultaneous wavelengths. Its lasers are maintenance-free and ensure excellent reliability and a lifetime of thousands of hours.

Manx Precision Optics is a manufacturer of precision optical components including mirrors, beamsplitters, windows, reference flats, optically contacted cube polarisers, roof mirrors, etalons, and optics for ultrafast applications. The company has a large stock of raw material and polished optics.

Ocean Insight offers compact spectrometers with versatile performance covering UV, visible and NIR wavelengths for multiple applications in research, OEM and process solutions. The company’s newest spectrometers combine its latest advances in opto-electronic design and components with constant innovation.

Photonic Solutions’ spectroscopy product range includes a suite of modular spectroscopy equipment and photovoltaic testing systems from Sciencetech, the full range of miniature spectrometers from Optosky, and, as the exclusive UK distributor of Becker & Hickl’s photon counting equipment, its complete portfolio of time correlated single photon counting (TCSPC) equipment, light sources and spectrographs.

Teledyne Princeton Instruments (TPI), a business unit of Teledyne Digital Imaging, designs and manufactures high-performance CCD, sCMOS, ICCD, EMCCD, emICCD, and InGaAs cameras; spectrographs; and optics-based solutions for the scientific research, industrial imaging, and OEM communities. Key innovations from the company include the first spectroscopy camera to feature a photodiode array, to use a CCD, and the first high-performance gated, intensified CCD camera. The company has also designed CCD cameras with high sensitivity for scientific imaging applications (~2e- rms read noise with >90 per cent quantum efficiency).

Pro-Lite Technology offers instruments for performing optical spectroscopy, including spectrometers (200-4,200nm) for emission, fluorescence, Raman, reflectance and laser induced breakdown (LIBS) spectroscopy, as well as spectral imagers and IR cameras. The firm also supplies instruments for plant science, gas analysis and fruit ripeness measurements, and field spectrometers and spectroradiometers for measurements of solar spectral irradiance as well as reflectance and transmittance.

Sacher Lasertechnik is an expert in tunable high-power external cavity diode lasers. Applications include absorption and Raman spectroscopy. The company offers various equipment for laser spectroscopy, including reference gas and vapour cells including heaters, setups for RF modulation spectroscopy and for doppler-free saturated absorption spectroscopy.

Toptica offers industrial and research grade lasers for spectroscopy with an ultra-broad wavelength coverage: 190nm – 0.1THz. Its lasers deliver tuneable narrow-linewidth emission that is – in some systems up to 110nm wide without a single mode hop. High-end, turn-key difference frequency combs and terahertz systems complement the portfolio for the most demanding spectroscopy applications.

Wasatch Photonics designs spectroscopy products that it would want to use. Its f/1.3 spectrometers are designed for low-light applications using its patented VPH gratings to help bridge the performance gap between high-end analytical spectrometers, and cost-effective, portable devices. The company has worked with applications ranging from R&D to material identification and analysis for process control, biomedical, chemicals, agriculture, and homeland security.

This is not an exhaustive list. If you provide products and solutions in the spectroscopy space and would like your company to be included, please let us know at:

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