Spectrophotometers measure light through wavelength distribution, and scientists use these instruments to measure different types of light, including visible and near-ultraviolet. Scientists wanted to obtain these measurements at a higher speed and resolution, and the double beam spectrophotometer meets this need.
Understanding Double Beam Spectrophotometers
A double beam spectrophotometer is an instrument that determines the absorption of light in liquid or gas samples in graduated cylinders. Its components are:
- Light source
- Sample holder
Spectrophotometers measure light’s wavelength distribution by providing the percentage of reflectance from an object, detecting the color of the sample. There are two types of beam spectrophotometers — single beam spectrophotometers and double beam spectrophotometers. These instruments have several key differences you should keep in mind when deciding which is best for your laboratory.
Single Beam Spectrophotometer
Single beam spectrophotometers determine color by measuring the intensity of the light sources before versus after a test sample is inserted. This light source is modulated (turned on and off) to differentiate the light coming from the light source versus the light coming from the flame.
The single light beam passes through the sample, and the single beam spectrophotometer measures the intensity of the light reflected from the reference to measure the sample.
Double Beam Spectrophotometer
Double beam spectrophotometers measure color in a sample by using two, or “double,” beams. One beam passes through the sample side, and the other beam passes through the reference side, so the reference and the sample can be read simultaneously with no need to recalibrate the instrument.
Both benchtop and portable spectrophotometers have vital biopharmaceutical applications. These devices facilitate manufacturing color quality testing and many other industrial processes. Depending on your industry and operational needs, you may need to use each device for different field sites. You’ll need to consider whether convenience or repeatability is your top priority for specific applications.
If you’re weighing the benefits of benchtop versus portable spectrophotometers, let us walk you through a comparative guide. We’ll cover the advantages and disadvantages of these types of spectrophotometers, so you can choose the best option for your applications.
Benchtop spectrophotometers offer extremely high precision and consistency for stringent quality control measurements. Professionals across industries rely on these devices to address critical quality color measurements.
With benchtop spectrophotometers, you can gain these key advantages:
- Small defect identification: A benchtop spectrophotometer is ideal for detecting tiny product defects, such as small tears or stains, because it can capture even these flaws accurately.
- Built-in backing: The benchtop device provides backing for objects that aren’t fully opaque. This backing can ensure more accurate and consistent results.
- High repeatability: Because benchtop spectrophotometers remain in a fixed location with in-depth measurement capabilities, they offer optimized repeatability.
When you’re creating quality standards or trying to ensure consistency across multiple locations, a benchtop device may be best for the job. However, outside of these applications, benchtop spectrophotometers come with disadvantages such as lack of portability and lost productivity, as you must transport items to the benchtop spectrophotometer’s location.
Color spectrophotometers are precise tools that measure color throughout production. Other types of spectrophotometers can also measure materials such as liquid, plastics, metals and more. Color quality checks occur in just about every industry for reasons such as branding and organization.
What Kinds of Spectrophotometers Exist?
Spectrophotometers come in multiple sizes to fit different operations. Portable spectrophotometers fit in your hand for mobile checkpoints around the lab. Benchtop spectrophotometers are sturdy fixtures that provide accurate color readings.
Finding a suitable device depends on your needs. The advantages of portable and benchtop spectrophotometers vary depending on what project you tackle. Each type has unique perks that it lends to perfecting color printing and distribution.
What Do Benchtop Spectrophotometers Measure?
A benchtop spectrophotometer can detect a larger range of variables that portable versions might not be able to. During goods production, it is necessary to measure color to adhere to brand and industry requirements. Benchtop spectrophotometers help workers produce the right color.
Benchtop spectrophotometers measure factors such as:
- Transmission: Benchtop spectrophotometers can check for transmission measurements through liquids, which is something portable versions might not.
- Defects: Benchtop spectrophotometers have a larger illumination spot, so they can average out imperfections such as lint or scratches that would skew your results.
- Backing: Benchtop spectrophotometers have a built-in backing to prevent mistakes. Unless your object is completely opaque, you need a backing to make sure other items don’t shine through.
- Hazes: Benchtop spectrophotometers can detect hazes in plastics and other materials.
- UV calibration: Benchtop spectrophotometers employ UV light calibration to offer consistency when working with optical brighteners.
Whereas portable spectrophotometers are adaptable in certain instances, these measurements come standard with benchtop spectrophotometers.
Sealants are critical for protecting natural stone finishes, such as marble countertops. Image Source: Shutterstock user Jodie Johnson
The color and clarity of natural stone sealants play an important role in not only protecting the surface of the stone, but creating aesthetic appeal. Indeed, while designers often spend significant time carefully choosing a stone, the final appearance of their project is highly dependent on the quality of the sealant; unwanted color variations or issues with clarity can drastically alter the final appearance of the stone, preventing the designer from realizing their vision. As such, manufacturers must closely monitor the color and clarity of sealants to guarantee that their products behave as expected. Today, breakthroughs in color measurement technology are making this process more simple than ever before, helping sealant manufacturers enhance the quality of their products while optimizing overall efficiency.
The color of a beverage will have a direct impact on how consumers perceive the product. Image source: Ben Kolde on Unsplash
Functional beverages—like energy and nutraceutical drinks—are growing in popularity among consumers who need a boost of energy, add more vitamins and minerals to their diets, or address specific health concerns. Based on a recent report from Transparency Market Research, “Global market for functional drinks is observing a healthy rise in its valuation, thanks to increasing awareness about the benefits of functional drinks on health and wellness.”1 As a result, many beverage manufacturers are both introducing new products and altering existing products to align with changing consumer habits. However, as brands change their recipes to meet functional demands, they must consider the impact of color change and its effect on consumer perception.
The ingredients in functional beverages, as well as the carbonation, can change the overall color of the drinks. Even beverage manufacturers that create translucent products need to consider the impact of color. For example, if a consumer is expecting a clear product, they may be turned off if the product appears cloudy or murky. which can be an indication of impurities. Spectrophotometric technology can be used to ensure your beverage’s color and haze remains consistent even as recipes change
Hair gloss treatments offer an effective new way to repair damaged hair and add a youthful appearance to dull locks, yet without proper haze and color measurement, many formulations fall short in creating the appearance that consumers desire. While harsh permanent dyes open the hair shaft to remove natural hair pigments and insert new color pigments, hair gloss provides a protective coating to the outer layer of the hair follicle to improve both color and shine. This coating must be developed to either match or enhance the existing color by providing a clear coating which maintains the proper reflectance and color values. Color measurement instrumentation that monitors both color and haze is therefore essential for developing a high-quality hair care product.
Whether creating a color matching formulation or a clear gloss treatment, understanding the relationship between color and haze and monitoring both can improve the production and quality of the product. While hair gloss coatings are designed to give hair a healthy shine and improve the reflective quality, contamination and formulation errors often lead to a cloudy or hazy appearance, translating to dull hair. Since the cloudy or hazy appearance of the product is often undetectable to the human eye and only recognizable after application, spectrophotometric analysis is critical during the formulation process.
Developing hair gloss products is both an art and a science, which requires the right color measurement technology to ensure proper transparency and predictable results. Spectrophotometers that are designed to measure both transmission color and haze provide the data needed to ensure proper formulation and meet the quality standards consumers demand. Now, simultaneous color and haze measurement is expanding the possibilities for quality control in the hair care industry.