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Proceedings Paper

Handheld spectrometers: the state of the art
Author(s): Richard A. Crocombe
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Paper Abstract

“Small” spectrometers fall into three broad classes: small versions of laboratory instruments, providing data, subsequently processed on a PC; dedicated analyzers, providing actionable information to an individual operator; and process analyzers, providing quantitative or semi-quantitative information to a process controller. The emphasis of this paper is on handheld dedicated analyzers. Many spectrometers have historically been large, possible fragile, expensive and complicated to use. The challenge over the last dozen years, as instruments have moved into the field, has been to make spectrometers smaller, affordable, rugged, easy-to-use, but most of all capable of delivering actionable results. Actionable results can dramatically improve the efficiency of a testing process and transform the way business is done. There are several keys to this handheld spectrometer revolution. Consumer electronics has given us powerful mobile platforms, compact batteries, clearly visible displays, new user interfaces, etc., while telecomm has revolutionized miniature optics, sources and detectors. While these technologies enable miniature spectrometers themselves, actionable information has demanded the development of rugged algorithms for material confirmation, unknown identification, mixture analysis and detection of suspicious materials in unknown matrices. These algorithms are far more sophisticated than the ‘correlation’ or ‘dot-product’ methods commonly used in benchtop instruments. Finally, continuing consumer electronics advances now enable many more technologies to be incorporated into handheld spectrometers, including Bluetooth, wireless, WiFi, GPS, cameras and bar code readers, and the continued size shrinkage of spectrometer ‘engines’ leads to the prospect of dual technology or ‘hyphenated’ handheld instruments.

Paper Details

Date Published: 29 May 2013
PDF: 14 pages
Proc. SPIE 8726, Next-Generation Spectroscopic Technologies VI, 87260R (29 May 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2017892
Show Author Affiliations
Richard A. Crocombe, Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8726:
Next-Generation Spectroscopic Technologies VI
Mark A. Druy; Richard A. Crocombe, Editor(s)

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