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Instruments for optical spectroscopy are generally described as spectrometers. Depending on their purpose, such as visually determining wavelength [spectroscope] or monitoring of a change in intensity [spectrophotometer] the description of the unit varies. For most laboratory based instruments, a monochromator setup is used, to select a single wavelength from the incident beam of light and determine the intensity with a single detector. By incrementally selecting a different wavelength, a complete spectrum can be recorded.
The use of detector arrays allows the simultaneous measurement over a spectral range within a significantly shorter time. Spectrometer modules image a set of wavelengths on the detector [Polychromator]. Depending on the wavelength range UV-VIS or NIR, different detectors and setups are used. In addition to very short measurement times, their rugged and compact design make them ideally suited for the industrial use.
The single pixels of a detector array are converting the incident light in a current. Spectrometer electronics convert this into a digital signal that can be used for further processing. The achievable precision is determined mainly by the accuracy of the spectrometer electronic. For some applications, where the light is emitted for only a short time, an exact timing and trigger behavior is required.
When light sources, spectrometer modules and electronics are combined, dedicated spectrometer systems can be created. The light sources have to be selected according to wavelength range, but in addition, their lifetime directly contributes to the service intervals. If the system is used for process conditions, a long-term stability and long service intervals are paramount. The use of fibre optic components allow a distributed installation in a wide range of industrial environments and enables the use of a wide range of accessories. The combination of all components produces a process spectrometer.
Mobile applications or integration in small machines require special adaptions of a spectrometer system. In this context extended temperature ranges, protection against water or vibrations can be required. Spectrometers can be operated as sensors to produce data for industrial applications and communicate them continuously with dedicated timing.
The digital signal acquired by the electronic is processed in the computer. The intensity and reference spectra are computed to produce absorbance, transmittance or reflections. Depending on the measurement task the spectra can be processed by a photometric approach, a peak area integration, colorimetry or a chemometric analysis. Obtained results can be further communicated to digital control systems by means of standardized process interfaces. The process spectrometer software MultiSpec® Pro II of tec5 offers a wide range of modules to meet the requirements on data analysis and communication.