The Unlimited Possibilities of Miniature Spectrometers

“Ask the right questions, and nature will open the door to her secrets.” Sir C.V. Raman

Since the dawn of time, the mysteries of our origins have captivated humans. Are we alone in the universe? Is it possible that an alien creature inhabits a distant planet far away? Will we be able to explore these mystic lands? If not, how do we develop ways to reach these distant locations and get a sense of them ourselves.

In 2018, the ‘Exomars’ payload mission was launched as an example of a science-driven exploratory expedition. To prepare for this mission, a Raman Spectrometer manufactured by B&W Tek was employed for the analysis to demonstrate the suitability of Raman for this exploratory mission.

This instrument had the essential task of analyzing powdered samples drilled from a sedimentary rock, breccia - typically found on Mars. Studying breccia samples supports the understanding of the evolutionary history of planetary bodies.

Additionally, the Raman studies aided the assessment of the performance of the analysis of these samples that are analogs to those on Mars to interrogate the possibility of life on Mars.

In order to truly test this, Sansano et al. and the Artic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition (AMASE, 2010) team from the Unidad Asociada, UVA-CSIC Center for Astrobiology gathered carbonate samples from the Svalbard Islands of the Artic regions on Earth as they have an environment similar to that of Mars.

Moreover, plotting the coarse distribution of minerals was conducted and studied along with unearthing the potential of mineral abundance on Martian Soil.1 It is clear from the exploration of extraterrestrial bodies such as Mars that spectroscopy can aid in revealing nature’s secrets and supply key information for the benefit of humanity.

Spectroscopy can be applied across an extensive range of fields, including mineral identification, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, gemstone testing, food quality inspection, etc.

For instance, you could simply take a visit to one of the lauded museums in Italy to evaluate the exact painting materials the famous Venetian painter, Jacopo Tintoretto, used for his remarkable artwork, “Wedding Feast at Cana.”

Jacopo Tintoretto

Jacopo Tintoretto's “Wedding Feast at Cana”. Image Credit: B&W Tek 

This is made possible by utilizing the principle of Fiber Optics Reflectance Spectroscopy (FORS) and by obtaining the spectra with a Quest™U spectrometer and BWSpec® software by connecting a tungsten lamp to a Y-shaped silica glass fiber bundle comprised of seven fibers.

Coupled with Raman spectroscopy, FORS was employed as a complementary method and primarily used in the preliminary identification of colorimetric data.

Furthermore, to aid restoration projects of these astonishing paintings, knowledge could be acquired relative to the varnish composition and precise pigment identification (orange pigments such as realgar and orpiment) utilizing the non-invasive Raman spectroscopy with the support of a portable i-Raman 785S.2

As an alternative, one could travel to Spain – one of the largest producers of Sherry vinegar of protected designation of origin (PDO) – to test the quality of samples of sherry vinegar. Employing the Quest™X, fluorescence spectra can be easily compiled to quantitatively measure product adulteration.3

However, suppose the presence of insecticide on plants needs to be identified.

In that case, it could be tested by measuring Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectrometer (SERS) signals using a portable Exemplar® Pro to determine residues of dimethoate (or DMT, an insecticide commonly used to protect olive trees) in water, olive leaves or other plants in agricultural fields as demonstrated by researchers in this paper.4

Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) can also be effective in identifying the differences between authentic and fraudulent tax stamps on alcoholic beverages. The LIBS analyzer is constructed with a compact, Exemplar® LS mini spectrometer in combination with a 1053 nm laser.

Using chemometric methods, LIBS spectra were evaluated based on samples from two regions of the label – a region featuring the hologram label and a region of blank paper.5

Additionally, in medicine, one of the CCD spectrometer models like the Exemplar® coupled with a blue LED light source (peak wavelength set to 475 nm) can investigate the application potential of photodynamic therapy.

In a sterilized environment, fluorescence spectra of blue-light were irradiated on a plaque staining agent. Then, Phloxine B investigations were undertaken in the laboratory to eradicate dental caries (particularly streptococcus mutans - a common pathogenic bacterium) present in deep pits and fissure grooves.6

These are a selection of examples of the numerous possibilities of OEM spectrometers created by B&W Tek. From this selection of published papers, one can see how our spectrometers are used worldwide across a diverse array of industries. B&W Tek has been in the spectroscopy industry for more than 24 years.

This wealth of knowledge and experience acquired over the years has facilitated the exploration of the unlimited applications of spectrometers.

From its inception, B&W Tek offered custom solutions using laser diodes and diode pumped solid-state lasers (DPSS). Over the years the company has grown to be a complete-service provider of spectrometer modules, accessories, light sources, portable Raman systems and handheld Raman solutions.

Additionally, B&W Tek offers the latest breadboarding Discover-It-Yourself Raman (DIY Raman) building block configurations. This article provides a preview of the ever-changing world of spectroscopic possibilities developed and manufactured at B&W Tek.

To discover more about B&W Tek’s spectrometer models and other customization options, contact the company today.

The Unlimited Possibilities of Miniature Spectrometers

Image Credit: B&W Tek 


  1. A. Sansano, G. Lopez, J. Medina, F. Rull, 2011, ‘Analysis of Arctic Carbonates Profiles by Raman Spectroscopy using Exomars Raman Laser spectrometer, EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2011, EPSC Abstracts, vol. 6, EPSC-DPS2011-856-1, (
  2. F.C. Agnoletto, L. de Ferri, D. Bersani, G. Pojana, 2020, ‘The Jacopo Tintoretto “Wedding Feast at Cana”: A non-invasive and multi-technique analytical approach for studying painting materials’, Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy, vol. 229, 117954, ISSN 1386-1425, (
  3. Miguel Lastra-Mejíasa, Ester González-Flores, Manuel Izquierdoa, John C. Cancilla, José S. Torrecilla, 2019 ‘Cognitive chaos on spectrofluorometric data to quantitatively unmask adulterations of a PDO vinegar’, Food Control, vol. 108, 106860, ISSN 0956-7135, (
  4. Tognaccini, Lorenzo, Marilena Ricci, Cristina Gellini, Alessandro Feis, Giulietta Smulevich, and Maurizio Becucci. 2019. ‘Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy for In-Field Detection of Pesticides: A Test on Dimethoate Residues in Water and on Olive Leaves’, Molecules 24, no. 2: 292. (
  5. Fabiano Barbieri Gonzaga, Werickson Fortunato de Carvalho Rocha, Deleon Nascimento Correa, 2015. ‘Discrimination between authentic and false tax stamps from liquor bottles using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy and chemometrics’, Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy, vol. 229, Pages 24-30, ISSN 0584-8547. (
  6. Yukako Shiotsu-Ogura, Ayaka Yoshida, Powen Kan, Haruka Sasaki, Toshizo Toyama, Kazuhito Izukuri, Nobushiro Hamada, Fumihiko Yoshino, 2019. ‘Antimicrobial photodynamic therapy using a plaque disclosing solution on Streptococcus mutans’, Photodiagnosis and Photodynamic Therapy, Vol. 26, Pages 252-257, ISSN 1572-1000. (

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by B&W Tek.

For more information on this source, please visit B&W Tek.


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