Portable Spectrometers for Raw Material ID

Portable spectrometers are designed for maximum ease-of-use for onsite materials analysis and testing. They have been adapted from a suite of high-analytical benchtop tools that were historically relegated to laboratory settings, providing unprecedented sample utility in a range of market sectors. The sheer range of available applications for portable spectrometers makes it difficult to narrow the spectrum down to a few likely contenders, but a selection of industries that make use of these tools include:

  • Art and archeology
  • Cosmetics, nutraceuticals, and pharmaceuticals
  • Food and feedstocks
  • Gems and mineralogy
  • Nanotechnology
  • Petroleum and petrochemicals
  • Plastics and polymers
  • Safety, security, and forensics
  • Semiconductors
  • Teaching and education

The scope broadens further when each of these is explored at a granular level. One area of application that spans many of these overarching markets is raw material identification (RMID). Portable spectrometers are increasingly utilized in RMID processes to reduce workflow inefficiencies, and to provide more reliable data in situ to inform subsequent actions.

Handheld Vs. Portable Spectrometers: What is the Difference?

The phrase ‘portable spectrometer’ is a cover-all for spectrometric instruments with a greater degree of portability than static, benchtop alternatives. Consider Raman spectroscopy; though the schema for laboratory-based Raman spectrometers can vary, they typically feature a minimum of four integrated modules: an excitation laser; a sample chamber with long-pass or notch rejection filters and focusing optics; a spectrometer; and an appropriate CCD detector. Historically, the size and sensitivity of these components made portability impossible. Now, there are two different approaches to increasing the maneuverability of spectrometric technologies.

  • A portable spectrometer typically refers to any spectrometric instrument that can be maneuvered for use in-the-field.
  • A handheld spectrometer is a subset of the above, referring to any portable spectrometer that can be held and operated in one hand.

Using Portable Spectrometers in RMID

These tools represent a significant increase in productivity, as time-consuming laboratory analysis can be readily transferred to the production site or warehouse, allowing RMID to be implemented directly on the line. We are focusing on the application of handheld Raman spectroscopy in RMID –other technologies are also available as portable spectrometers (e.g. LIBS, NIR).

B&W Tek holds a full, innovative line of portable and handheld Raman spectrometers that can nondestructively measure the full molecular fingerprint of samples wherever you need. This enables you to characterize your raw materials at the earliest possible stage for screening, verification, and 100% positive materials identification (PMI). Previously, this level of analysis took time and experienced personnel to perform effectively. Raw materials would be sampled and transported off-site to remote testing facilities where analysis could finally be carried out following some sample preparation. In the current age of fast-moving industry and global supply lines, this antiquated method is not always suitable.

Handheld spectrometers, with easy touchscreen operation, allow non-scientific users to expedite materials testing at the point of receipt, significantly improving workflows in a wide range of product supply chains. To effectively implement these high-analytical functionalities in rugged working environments, the handheld spectrometer must be robust enough to withstand the conditions therein. B&W Tek portable spectrometers are optimized to perform commendably over long-life cycles in tough working conditions such as loading docks, fields, and warehouses.

If you would like more information about our range of portable spectrometers, simply browse our full product range for yourself. If you have any specific questions about performing RMID with B&W Tek instruments, contact a member of the team today.

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