Photo by C Lloyd at SSERC (Public Domain)
Spectroscopy is an important analytical technique in chemistry and is a significant part of the Advanced Higher course.
Most spectrometers or spectrophotometers are expensive but there are some simple DIY versions it is possible to make.
1) A Smartphone Spectroscope
This is a simple device made from card that you can stick over the camera on your smartphone and take pictures of spectra with.
The design here was developed by the fine people at publiclab.org (a website you should certainly visit). Not only is it a great design for a simple spectroscope, using the free resource at Spectralworkbench.org, you can analyse the photos and get a graph of the spectrum of your photo.
Smartphone Spectrometer – Pupil
Smartphone Spectrometer – Teacher
Smartphone Spectrometer – Technician
Analysing spectra using Spectral Workbench
Alert, November 2022.
Sadly, Spectral Workbench is offline . Following the link brings up this message – let’s hope it is temporary.
2) DVD spectroscope
This activity involves the construction of a DVD spectroscope you can look through and the use of the free program ‘tracker’* to analyse the spectra.
* Tracker is a java application and does not need to be actually installed on your computer so avoiding issues of admin rights and permissions (You do need to have java installed but almost all computers do anyway)
How to build a DVD spectroscope
Spectroscope Teacher/Technician Guide
Spectrum analysis using Tracker
Tracker It is not possible to put the tracker program as is on the website at the moment but this llink will download a zipped file which has tracker.jar inside it.
If that doesn’t work, you can download it here