Criteria To Consider When Buying a Visible or NIR Spectrometer

Spectrometers can measure the purity of a solution, the composition of metals, the presence or absence of specific genes in a DNA sample, or the kinetics of a chemical reaction, among many other things. Criteria to consider when buying a visible or NIR spectrometer include purpose, portability, and price.


What are you measuring? Your choice of spectrometer will be affected by the reason you need to use it. If you’re measuring variables in color, you’ll need a visible spectrometer with a resolution refined to detect subtle differences. Check the level of resolution and the range the instrument can detect in nanometers—how it differentiates between closely spaced wavelengths.

If you are measuring the purity of raw materials, you’ll need to determine an acceptable range of detection. Establish the level of sensitivity in the instrument required to identify contaminants or the percentage of a required substance’s presence in random samples.

You should also consider the instrument’s ability to provide accurate results regardless of the container holding the substance you are analyzing. While the material of some containers, such as glass or plastic, could create interference or light transmission problems at certain wavelengths, they could be completely acceptable for a different wavelength range.

Food and chemical industries often rely on NIR spectrometers because they don’t require elaborate sample preparation. They can measure starch, fat, protein, and moisture content and noninvasively determine physical and chemical properties of materials.


Some spectrometers are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand or attach to your smartphone. They can deliver results directly to an associated app on your phone or tablet for a quick analysis.

More refined measurements may require benchtop spectrometers that gather data and deliver it to a computer for further analysis. The volume of materials you’re looking at may also affect your choice. Whether you’re analyzing a small sample in a cuvette or on a slide or looking at samples in the field as they exist in nature, your spectrometer must be able to accept the container or discern variations in specimens gathered in the field.


Your budget for scientific instruments affects your choice. A classroom spectrometer used for an introductory course, or to teach middle or high school students about spectroscopy, won’t be as expensive as an instrument you rely on to guarantee the purity of a pharmaceutical product. Your budget will create boundaries around your choices, but this can be helpful by reducing the number of options to consider.

Axiom Optics can supply the spectrometers you need to perform a wide range of tasks. Browse our collection of spectrometers and contact us with any questions you may have about the right instrument for you.

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