UV Spectrometers Explained

Measuring light absorbance across various ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum requires the right equipment, including UV Spectrometers. This kind of kit is commonly used in laboratories and for many everyday applications. UV spectrometers are just one type of spectrometer which is used by scientists and experts to measure wavelengths and radiation. There are many other types of spectrometers, such as a spectrophotometer or a mass spectrometer. Today, we are explaining everything you need to know about UV spectrometers.

What Is a Spectrometer?

A spectrometer is any piece of equipment that can be used to measure variations in physical characteristics on a given range, for example, the electromagnetic spectrum. UV spectrometers are the most commonly used type and are also referred to as optical spectrometers. They work to measure changes in the emission and absorption of light with wavelengths. Electromagnetic radiation, or light, can be absorbed by, reflected off, or transmitted through various objects, and UV spectrometers measure the changes that occur during these interactions.

How Does a Spectrometer Work?

An optical spectrometer works to measure the interactions or emissions between electromagnetic radiation and a sample. Also known as a light spectrometer, this kind of equipment looks at the electromagnetic radiation which falls into the optical regions of the spectrum. The electromagnetic spectrum includes ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light waves.

For a light spectrometer to gain the most information about the emission or interaction, it must measure as a function of wavelength. The common feature for UV spectrometers is a mechanism designed for a selection of wavelengths. Some simple spectrometers use optical filters in order to isolate a specific wavelength. For a more accurate selection of light wavelengths, high-end spectrometers have a dispersive element which separates light waves into the relevant wavelengths. All modern pieces of kit use a diffraction grating for this dispersive element. These use destructive and constructive interferences to separate polychromatic light.

Diffraction gratings are the key part of a monochromator. A monochromator works to select particular wavelengths from a polychromatic light source. With a monochromator, the diffraction grating rotates to adapt the wavelength which is aligned and passing through an exit slit. All spectrophotometers feature monochromators allowing users to select a specific wavelength.

Types Of UV Spectrometer

UV spectrometers comes in various types, and it is important to understand the differences:


A spectrophotometer is also called a UV-Vis Spectrometer. This term actually refers to many devices which can measure light, but generally it is a term used for a spectrometer that measures light absorption by a sample. They use a white light source and a monochromator which works to select the wavelength of the light to reach the sample. This light is transmitted to the sample and monitored using a detector.


Another type of optical spectrometer is a spectrofluorometer. This equipment measures the fluorescence emissions from a specific sample. They are benchtop devices, similar to a spectrophotometer, but with advanced functionality. Just like a spectrophotometer, these instruments have a white light source and monochromator. The sample is then illuminated by the wavelength from the exit slit, causing it to fluoresce. This emission from the fluorescence then goes to another monochromator and then a photomultiplier tube.

Raman Spectrometer

These work to measure the Raman scattering of light. They work similarly to a spectrofluorometer, but with some key changes. Instead of a white light, they use a laser and there is no monochromator. This is because Raman spectrometer creates a light scatter from the sample instead of light being absorbed. The laser light scatters off the sample and is passed to a filter. The Raman scattered light then goes to a spectrograph and is then captured by a CCD detector.

What Are The Parts Of A Spectrometer?

UV spectrometers are made up of our various components, but the most critical parts of this equipment are:

  • The Light Source: All types of spectrometers must have a light source of some kind. Light sources come in many different types, but usually they are a deuterium arc lamp, tungsten halogen lamp, or Xenon arc lamp.
  • The Light Transfer: For most spectrometers, the light transfer system is the diffraction grating. Without this, you will not receive any readings on your spectrometer.
  • The Detectors: After the wavelengths have passed through the sample, they will go to the detectors. This is where the light intensity is detected and measured.
  • The Read Out System:Finally there is the read out system, which is essentially the computer within the spectrometer. It collects all the data from the detectors and converts it into measurements.

How To Choose Wireless Sensors And Software

Using wireless sensors to create a wireless sensor network in your laboratory is an efficient and reliable way to gather and collate data. It is essential you choose the right type of sensors for your application, as well as the perfect software to aggregate and analyse the findings.

Wireless sensors are suitable for a huge range of applications, both inside the laboratory and out in the field. When choosing the perfect equipment for you, it is critical that you consider all of your options. You need to look at the type of sensor you need, the connectivity method, and the software used to understand the data collected.

PASCO are an award-winning, market leader when it comes laboratory equipment and software solutions. In this guide, we are sharing everything you need to know about choosing PASCO wireless sensors and software.

Why Choose PASCO?

When you start looking for wireless sensors, either for teaching purposes or in a commercial laboratory, the chances are you will come across the PASCO brand. PASCO are renowned for their high-quality science education tools and data logging solutions. Over many years, their products have become known for their innovation, reliability, robustness, and ease of use. When you choose PASCO products, you are choosing an affordable option without compromising on quality.

5 Top Selling PASCO Wireless Sensors

Here at SciChem we are proud to be UK suppliers of PASCO wireless sensors. Our top selling sensors include;

  1. PASCO Wireless Motion Sensor: Using ultrasound technology, this wireless motion sensor can measure velocity, position, and acceleration of any object. This is popular in education settings as students can use this wireless sensor to measure themselves and then watch back their motion in real-time graphs. Detecting objects from 15cm to 4m away, this wireless motion sensor is perfect for many real-world applications as well as in education.
  2. PASCO Wireless O2 Sensor: Whether you are teaching photosynthesis, or measuring respiration and oxygen cycling, the PASCO Wireless O2 Sensor is a reliable and accurate option. This sensor measures gaseous O2 concentrations in the atmosphere, as well as air temperature and humidity. The wireless sensor is ideal for various activities in environmental science, biology, and physiology.
  3. PASCO Wireless Temperature Sensor: When you need instant temperature readings, as well as the ability to continuously log, monitor, and plot temperatures, this wireless sensor is the perfect choice. Technicians will be able to view the data in PASCO’s SPARKvue software which works across any connected device.
  4. PASCO Wireless Sensor Light: This wireless light sensor features two separate apertures so you can measure both ambient and directional light measurements. When using the ambient sensor, you can measure irradiance, illuminance, UVA, UVB, and UV index. With the spot aperture, you can measure light level as well as use innovative colour detection.
  5. PASCO Wireless Weather Sensor: The Wireless Weather Sensor from PASCO uses GPS to create an all-in-one tool which can monitor environmental conditions. With a built in anemometer, this device can sense humidity, pressure, temperature, light, and more. There is a weather vane accessory which can be added for long-term monitoring, or this sensor can be used as a hand held instrument.

Wireless Sensor Software Explained

Gathering and measuring data with wireless sensors is one thing, but the information you collect is only as good as the software used to understand it. PASCO offer various software solutions to work alongside their wireless sensors for the ultimate data login experience. It is essential that you have the right software and the right licences for your application.

One very popular piece of software for data logging with various wireless sensors is SPARKvue. SPARKvue is designed to support and enhance the learning process in a range of education settings. There is a complete suite of display options including digits, tables, graphs, and meters. This makes it super simple to see and interpret the data being collected by your wireless sensors. SPARKvue features various analysis tools at the touch of a button, helping students along the way.

There are features for saving journal snapshots and writing observations effortlessly, which you can come back to time and time again. For educators, SPARKvue can help deliver interactive lessons and lectures, as well as conduct reviews of the classes results.


Here at SciChem, we are specialists in all kinds of lab equipment including wireless sensors and software. As well as being proud stockists of PASCO in the UK, we also stock a range of other excellent brands and can help you find the perfect solution for your application.