What is a spectrophotometer used for?

By Oscarjack 7 Min Read

Every chemical substance receives, emits, or reflects light in frequencies above an electromagnetic range. A portion of the energy is absorbed as it travels through any liquid. Spectrophotometry can be used for both qualitative as well as quantitative assessments. Light absorption rises as the level of a material increases, but optical transmission diminishes.

In clinical investigations, a spectrophotometer is utilised. Because the contents are confined in a tiny tube called a cuvette, or in the situation of the Photopette, it enables scientists to examine multiple samples without experiencing any skin contact. Measurements are performed immediately in the sample holder, with no need for transfer.

Although a Spectrophotometer and colorimeter come with their own set of differences.

What is Spectrophotometer:

Spectrophotometry is a common and low-cost technique for measuring light absorption or the concentration of compounds in a mixture. It employs a laser beam that travels through the specimen, with each component in the solution.  They absorb or transmit light of a specific frequency.

A spectrophotometer, which is composed of two devices — a spectrometer and just a photometer – is used to quantify spectrometry. A spectrometer generates wavelength-specific light, as well as the photometer evaluates light concentration. It is done by detecting the level of illumination that travels through the specimen.

Light Source:

Spectrophotometers are powered by lighting. Light sources could vary in type and utilise a wide band of wavelengths, encompassing noticeable, UV, and IR, because of the large variety of materials.


Within the device, a monochromator deflects light into a single spectrum and diffuses polychromatic energy into the necessary frequencies. A grating separates the light source into several pieces. Gratings are commonly used in a spectrophotometer which operates in the UV, optical, and infrared ranges.

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Sample Chamber:

The operator enters the material for analysis into the sample container. Usually, samples are put in a cuvette composed of a substance such as glassware or quartz.


The detector is just the light-receiving component which collects the incoming light’s intensity. Photomultiplier transistors and photodiodes are common spectrophotometer sensors. They transform light energy into an electrical signal, which is then turned into an absorbed figure.

Digital Display:

Modern spectrophotometers are often equipped with a digital display. This provides operators with an easy way to modify equipment settings, specify procedure parameters, and then see outcomes. However, it does not influence how the device functions.

Data Analysis:

In addition to digital screens, several spectrophotometers can do computations and evaluations. Once all of the process parameters have indeed been entered into the instruments, data and findings are produced when the procedure is finished.

Absorbance Wavelengths:

The absorbance output of a spectrophotometer would be the amount of photons absorption done by a solution. The lengthier the path length which the light would pass through a liquid before accessing the detector, the more likely a photon will be captured.

Single and  Double Beam Spectrophotometer:

There have been two kinds of spectrophotometers: solitary beam as well as double beam. A singular beam of light travels through a specimen inside a single-beam spectrophotometer. Light output is monitored before and following the light travels through the samples, and the concentrations of the analyte may be estimated using Beer-Law. 

A significant feature distinguishes a double beam spectrophotometer from a single beam spectrophotometer. The original light source is separated into different beams; one travels through the specimen, while the other travels through a standard solution. The absorbency of the sample is then described as the proportion of the 2 beams of light.

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A Single beam spectrophotometer seems to be typically more concise and has a greater variable range, however, the optics in a dual-beam can allow for higher degrees of automated processes, greater accuracy, and correction for solvent background absorbing.

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Spectrophotometer Uses:

Spectrophotometry is a very reliable technology that has found widespread application in research, economics, and production. We will look at a few of the applications of spectrophotometry and the reasons they are utilised below.

  • Pharmaceutical Production – 

Unsurprisingly, the pharmaceutical production process is closely scrutinised to ensure that the finished product is precisely what it claims to be.

When possible, use spectrophotometry to conduct quality control monitoring on raw resources, intermediates, and finished products. By testing and comparing specimens, it is possible to determine if the proper substance was created and whether any contaminants exist.

Because of the small sample size considered necessary for spectrophotometry, it is also a very cost-efficient technology in areas where raw – materials prices are high.

Water Analysis:

Water quality is critical for business, production, and consumption, but determining quality outside testing can be difficult. A spectrophotometer is a non-destructive technology for measuring the quality, clarity, and cleanliness of the water. Water is often tested using the APHA as well as Hazen scale, which was employed to improve wastewater but may also be employed to ‘purer’ samples.

Water quality measurements are useful for evaluating the existence of heavy elements in drinking water, estimating the concentration of contaminants in wastewater, and certifying water cleanliness for laboratory research or manufacturing operations.

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