Spectrophotometry vs. Spectroscopy

Spectrophotometry and spectroscopy are undoubtedly similar words — however, these terms are not interchangeable. While spectrophotometry and spectroscopy deal with related concepts, they focus on different scientific interactions and outcomes to gain varying insights.

Through this guide, you’ll learn about the difference between spectrophotometry and spectroscopy, their basic definitions and the instruments used in each science.

What Is Spectrophotometry?

Spectrophotometry operates on the principle that every chemical compound absorbs, reflects or transmits light over a specific wavelength spectrum. You can use this technique to determine the amount of light a chemical substance absorbs by measuring the intensity of the light as a beam passes through the sample.

The science of spectrophotometry allows for qualitative and quantitative analysis and is widely used across various industries, including chemistry, physics, biochemistry, biology and clinical studies.

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What Is Spectroscopy?

Spectroscopy is the study of how energy and radiated matter interact. After absorbing the energy, the matter enters into an excited state, producing an easily observable interaction through the visible light created by electromagnetic waves on the visible spectrum. More recently, this science has expanded to include interactions between protons, ions and electrons.

Spectroscopy is commonly used in scientific fields like physics, chemistry and astronomy, all of which have grown as a result of this study.

Spectrophotometry vs. Spectroscopy

Though spectrophotometry and spectroscopy may sound similar in nature, these fields have many differences between them — the most obvious being their primary definitions and focuses. Spectroscopy is a study, while spectrophotometry is a method. Spectroscopy observes how radiated matter and energy interact, while spectrophotometry measures light absorption in a chemical substance.

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Unlike spectrophotometry, spectroscopy alone doesn’t produce results. To glean insights from this science, you must first use spectrometry, a method that focuses on light spectrum measurement, to analyze and interpret it. Spectrophotometry techniques create measurable outcomes that you can use to reach viable conclusions.

The last primary difference between spectrophotometry vs. spectroscopy is the instruments used for each. Spectrophotometry is conducted with a spectrophotometer, a device that performs quantitative measurements of a material’s transmission or reflectance properties as a wavelength function. Spectroscopy requires a spectrometer, which measures physical variations across a spectrum and collects information based on the amount of visible, infrared or ultraviolet light the material projects.

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If you’re looking for an accurate and user-friendly spectrophotometer, HunterLab is your go-to destination. We’ve upheld our reputation as industry leaders in color measurements solutions for over 65 years, creating top-of-the-line instruments and technologies that exceed the expectations of the human eye.

Check out our blog to learn more about spectrophotometry today!