Spectrophotometer Purchasing Guide

March 13, 2022 | Buyers' Guide

Proven to be very useful in research and development of different fields of studies including chemistry, physics, biology and other sciences, spectrophotometers speed up identification and measurement of particle content and concentration in chemical substances. Medical and pharmaceutical industries also benefit largely from spectrophotometers as these help in providing the right drug doses and avoiding wrong prescriptions that may risk safety of the patients. Used to control, monitor, and evaluate effects of various ingredients, many labs and trusted worldwide organizations like the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) International, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and World Health Organization (WHO) take advantage of spectrophotometers to ensure a variety of products adhere to quality standards.

With a range of applications utilizing and relying on spectrophotometers, getting the most suitable unit to conform with your specific application goals is essential. Coming up with a smart purchasing decision involves being familiar with all the different types and models available in the market. Let this simple purchasing guide prepared by Laboratory App assist you in determining the best spectrophotometer for your specific application needs.

Analyzing Application Needs for your Spectrophotometer

Finding the right spectrophotometer for your lab involves identifying the kinds of analyses to be conducted in your study as well as your application requirements. These questions can help you get started:

Will you be analyzing and evaluating quantities of nucleic acid?

If you are looking for a particular equipment that can help you determine nucleic acid properties, presence of DNA and RNA in compounds, particular concentration yields and purity of substances.

What kind of Spectrophotometer does your application require?

Two techniques widely used in spectrophotometry are FTIR and UV-Vis. A Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrophotometer (FTIR) uses infrared to collect data translated from a spectrum, while an Ultraviolet-Visible (UV-Vis) Spectrophotometer uses ultraviolet light in detecting and measuring glow of light at different frequencies. 

Useful in analyzing organic and inorganic compounds that show changes in molecular bonds, FTIR spectrophotometers can be utilized for testing quality of air and water, basic drug research, and material identification of polymers and plastics among others. If you are looking for FTIR models with superior optical throughput and signal-to-noise ratio, multiple spectral ranges (mid-IR, near-IR, far-IR), and allows rapid scanning for faster kinetics. Commonly used in forensic analysis, ink manufacturing, printing, and textile industries to name a few, UV-Vis spectrophotometers detect impurities in organic molecules and quantitatively determine compounds as well as their molecular weight.

What is your required wavelength range?

Go for an FTIR spectrophotometer if your application requires usage of light over the infrared range of 700-15,000 nm of electromagnetic spectrum. Choose a UV-Vis spectrophotometer instead if you need a unit that uses light over the ultraviolet range of 185-400 nm and the visible range of 400-700 nm of electromagnetic spectrum.

If you will be using cuvettes for the spectrophotometer, keep in mind the material these are made of as these have different usable wavelengths as well.

  • Glass - wavelength from 340 - 2,500 nm (visible spectrum)
  • Plastic - wavelength from 380 - 780 nm (visible spectrum)
  • Fused Quartz - wavelength below 380 nm (ultraviolet spectrum)

Other Factors to Consider

Accuracy and Analysis Speed

Critical in choosing the most suitable spectrophotometer for your lab is the accuracy and speed of analysis that your unit can offer. A quick and precise equipment not only make way for efficient experiments but also for effective analyses given the accurate data collected. Perform rapid sample analysis with UV-Vis spectrophotometers like the Scilogex SP-UV1000 Spectrophotometer.

Ease of Use

Avoid any user-related errors by acquiring spectrophotometers that offer convenience and are easy to operate. For trouble-free operation, you may want to check out: Scilogex SP-V1100 Spectrophotometer and Scilogex SP-V1000 Spectrophotometer.

Optional Features

You may also want to consider spectrophotometers that come with a user-friendly software for better collection, management, and analysis of your data.

Review Lab Space Available for your Spectrophotometer

Another factor to take into account before purchasing your spectrophotometer is your available lab space. With the different sizes of spectrophotometers available in the market, think through the capacity of your workroom. For those with a large and open area, you can get spectrophotometers that come with a PC and data station. If have a smaller area, there are modular size equipment that you can go for.

Assess Budget Allocation for your Spectrophotometer

Perform extensive research and review your budget before deciding on which type of spectrophotometer to purchase. If you have ample resources at hand, buying a brand new spectrophotometer is a great investment given the latest technology it can provide.

Choose Between a Single-Beam or Double-Beam Spectrophotometer.

The spectrophotometer configuration you would need greatly depends on what applications you will be working on, whether in determining impurities in organic molecules or in monitoring dissolved content in freshwater and marine ecosystem, or in others. Spectrophotometers can be configured as single-beam or double-beam.

Single-beam spectrophotometers make use of reference standards to blank the equipment before it starts taking measurements. These have higher dynamic range, are much simpler to handle, less expensive, more compact, and less susceptible to internal dust buildup compared to double-beam ones.

On the other hand, Double beam spectrophotometers splits a beam of light in two different paths. With one beam passing through the sample substance and the other beam through a reference standard at the same time, these units are better in terms of speed, stability and flexibility compared to single beam ones. Laboratories that need to meet high throughput requirements may want to get double beam spectrophotometers for faster sample measurement and analysis. These are also recommended for use in more sophisticated tests like in biochemical analysis involving DNA, RNA, and protein isolation.

Sample Format for your Spectrophotometer

Before procuring a unit, consider the sample type, volume, and format you will be using the spectrophotometer for. Two sample formats commonly used in spectrophotometry are cuvettes and microplates.

Cuvettes can be be made out of either glass, plastic, or fused quartz. Each material have useable wavelengths as listed below:

  • Glass - optical wavelength of 340 - 2,500nm
  • Plastic - wavelength of 380 - 780 nm (visible spectrum)
  • Microvolume cuvettes - can measure between 2 ml and 10 ml

For UV-Vis spectrophotometer usage glass cuvettes are used for solvents, plastic cuvettes for solutions, and quartz cuvettes for solvents in the UV range.

Depending on size, these are classified as:

  • Macro cuvettes - can measure 1.5 ml - 2ml
  • Standard cuvettes - can measure between 50 ml and 2 ml
  • Fused Glass - wavelength below 380 nm (ultraviolet spectrum)

Microplates, also known as microwell plates or microtiter plates, allow sampling of several substances in small volumes at once. With a shorter path length compared to cuvettes, microplates are simpler and quicker to measure. Typically available to have 6- to 1536-wells, each microplate can hold around tens of nanoliters to several milliliters of liquid.

Achieve optimal results by choosing the most fit spectrophotometer for your applications. Taking time to review key components posted above can not only get you an efficient unit but also help you maximize your resources. If you are having a hard time picking the appropriate instrument for your specific application, you can always seek effective solutions and advice from industry experts.

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