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Photonics Dictionary

monochromator

A monochromator is an optical instrument used to isolate and select a narrow range of wavelengths from a broader spectrum of light. The term monochromator is derived from "monochromatic," meaning consisting of a single color or wavelength. Monochromators are essential tools in spectroscopy, allowing researchers to analyze the spectral characteristics of light sources or materials.

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The basic principle of a monochromator involves dispersing incoming light into its constituent wavelengths and then selectively transmitting a specific wavelength or range of wavelengths while blocking others. This is typically achieved using diffraction grating, prism, or interference filter-based designs.

Here is a general overview of how a monochromator works:

Dispersion: The incoming light is first dispersed into its component wavelengths using a dispersive element such as a diffraction grating or prism. This dispersion separates the wavelengths spatially.

Selection: The monochromator allows the user to select a specific wavelength or range of wavelengths by adjusting the position of the dispersive element or using slits to block unwanted wavelengths.

Transmission: Only the selected wavelength or range of wavelengths passes through the monochromator, while other wavelengths are blocked or attenuated.

Output: The selected wavelength or range of wavelengths is then directed to the sample or detector for further analysis.

Monochromators are commonly used in various spectroscopic techniques, including absorption spectroscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and emission spectroscopy. They are also employed in instruments such as spectrophotometers, fluorometers, and monochromatic light sources for scientific research, quality control, and industrial applications.
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