Mr. Capra's Educational Pursuits in Antarctica

Fuchs Foundation Antarctic Expedition 2010

Spectro What? A Simple Guide to Spectroradiometry!

Spectrum = from the latin it means “to behold”. In physics it means an ordered array of the components of a particular type of light

Radiometry = Measure of radiation intensity (usually Electromagnetic Radiation)

Spectroradiometry is a measuring technique that tries to find out what are the different wavelengths of light in the incoming radiation emitted by a certain source.  In order to do that, you need extremely fine gratings which will depend on the wavelength of the light you want to examine.

Look at pure visitble white light for example. Its spectrum is composed by the range of colours from red to violet. Therefore, as you’ve learned previously, UV is also a type of light and therefore has a certain spectrum associated with it.

 Below is an example of a measurement from a specific spectroradiometer in an specific location

Credit to Bentham Instruments for the picture

Credit to Bentham Instruments

The y-axis is the intensity of light.

Precisely determining the emission spectrum of a source and the absorption spectrum of a sample, provides information about the emitting substance and the sample material as different elements, compounds will emit/absorb differently.

 For example, by looking at the UV spectrum in Antarctica on the ground, I will be able to infer about the amount of ozone in the atmosphere in that particular location, by comparing the relative intensities of wavelengths which are strongly/weakly absorbed.

Also, in my second project about sunscreen, looking at the absorption spectrum of different sunscreens will help assess its efficiency in blocking ultraviolet radiation in an in-vivo/in-situ situation. This can also be used to assess the chemical or biological effect on a system that is affected by this radiation.

 A spectroradiometer is a complicated machine but it helps us understand light in a much deeper way. Below is a simple schematic.


Spectroradiometer Schematic - Thanks to Bentham

Spectroradiometer Schematic - Thanks to Bentham

Hopefully you will know a bit more about spectroradiometry now. If you have questions, please leave a comment!

For further information you can visit:

For a more detailed guide on Spectrometry


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[…] Spectro what? A Simple guide to Spectroradiometry. […]

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