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Studying the interaction of light and matter – this is the definition of a scientific method with many applications and strongly growing use in many fields and branches. The measurement by light is non-destructive, fast and accurate. It also includes invisible wavelengths in the UV and NIR range and exceeds the capabilities of human senses by far. Measuring instruments for UV-VIS-NIR and Raman spectroscopy analyze material properties and compositions by exposing the sample to light and measuring the unique response in terms or reflection, transmission or absorbance of the sample.
Analytical instruments are frequently used in laboratory environments for scientific research. Highly trained spectroscopists need accurate and high-resolution instruments for their work. In Raman spectroscopy, a laser light source is used to cause the molecular effects allowing material classification. Analytical sciences require high performance, versatile instruments with powerful software tools to perform a wide variety of measurements.
Inline spectroscopy for use in industrial applications introduces thus additional requirements on the spectrometer. How can we make spectrometers industrial? On the one hand, they have to be suitable for the environmental challenges of the place like temperature, vibration or special substances, the devices have to fulfill special regulatory requirements needing Eex or other certifications. On the other hand, high availability and reliability of operation are vital for a use in industry. The instrument should preferably operate autonomously or only require simple operations which can be easily performed in the production environment. On top of that, bringing Raman spectroscopy into an industrial environment involves a laser security concept to protect the operators and from damage caused by the laser radiation. Today, process spectrometers systems are available for a wide range of applications and environmental requirements.
An optical measurement principle is well suitable for a measurement directly in the production, avoiding the requirement of sampling the material to be checked or to create a by-pass for quality control. Ideally, an inline instrument checks all products that are produced, not just a representative subset [100 % quality inspection]. This also calls for a certain measurement rate to keep up with the manufacturing rate, sometimes referred to as real-time requirements of the measurement application. In no case, the optical measurement should impair the dynamics of the manufacturing operations
To assure the capablity of measuring at the manufacturing rate, the maximum response time of the instrument must be predictable and well defined. This is a non-trivial requirement in the context of a complex measuring instrument based on large raw data sets and complex data processing algorithms. Starting with suitable spectral sensor electronics, It has to be fulfilled by an instrument design with real-time capabilities, responding to a measurement request in a certain time latest.