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definitions - Spectroscopy

spectroscopy (n.)

1.the use of spectroscopes to analyze spectra

Spectroscopy (n.)

1.(MeSH)The measurement of the amplitude of the components of a complex waveform throughout the frequency range of the waveform. (McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms, 4th ed)

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Merriam Webster

SpectroscopySpec*tros"co*py (?), n. the art and science dealing with the use of a spectroscope, and the production and analysis of spectra; the action of using a spectroscope.

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definition (more)

definition of Wikipedia

synonyms - Spectroscopy

see also - Spectroscopy


-Fluorescence Spectroscopy • In Vivo NMR Spectroscopy • MR Spectroscopy • Mass Spectroscopy, Fast Atom Bombardment • Mass Spectroscopy, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization • Mass Spectroscopy, Secondary Ion • Mossbauer Spectroscopy • NIR Spectroscopy • NMR Spectroscopy • NMR Spectroscopy, In Vivo • NMR Spectroscopy, Protein • Protein NMR Spectroscopy • Raman Spectroscopy • Spectroscopy, Electron Energy-Loss • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared • Spectroscopy, Infrared, Fourier Transform • Spectroscopy, Magnetic Resonance • Spectroscopy, Mass, Fast Atom Bombardment • Spectroscopy, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization • Spectroscopy, Mass, Secondary Ion • Spectroscopy, Mossbauer • Spectroscopy, NMR • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared • Spectroscopy, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance • X-Ray Emission Spectroscopy • Xray Emission Spectroscopy • mass spectroscopy • microwave spectroscopy

-2D-FT NMRI and spectroscopy • Absorption spectroscopy • Acoustic resonance spectroscopy • Acoustic spectroscopy • Alpha-particle spectroscopy • Applied Spectroscopy Reviews • Applied spectroscopy • Astronomical spectroscopy • Atomic absorption spectroscopy • Atomic emission spectroscopy • Atomic spectroscopy • Auger electron spectroscopy • Cavity ring-down spectroscopy • Chemical ionization mass spectroscopy • Coherent Stokes Raman spectroscopy • Coherent anti-Stokes Raman spectroscopy • Coherent spectroscopy • Cold vapour atomic fluorescence spectroscopy • Correlation spectroscopy • Dark current spectroscopy • Deep-level transient spectroscopy • Diffusing-wave spectroscopy • Doppler spectroscopy • Dynamic mechanical spectroscopy • E. Bright Wilson Award in Spectroscopy • Earle K. Plyler Prize for Molecular Spectroscopy • Electromagnetic spectroscopy • Electron energy loss spectroscopy • Electron spectroscopy • Emission spectroscopy • Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy • Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy • Ernst Ruska-Centre for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons • Exclusive correlation spectroscopy • Femtosecond transition spectroscopy • Fluorescence spectroscopy • Force spectroscopy • Fourier transform spectroscopy • Gamma spectroscopy • Gradient enhanced NMR spectroscopy • Hadron spectroscopy • High Throughput X-ray Spectroscopy mission • High resolution electron energy loss spectroscopy • Imaging spectroscopy • In vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy • Inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy • Inelastic electron tunneling spectroscopy • Infrared spectroscopy • Infrared spectroscopy correlation table • Inverse photoemission spectroscopy • Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy • Mass spectroscopy • Microwave Spectroscopy • Muon spin spectroscopy • Mössbauer spectroscopy • NMR spectroscopy • NMR spectroscopy of stereoisomers • Near infrared spectroscopy • Near ir spectroscopy • Neutron three axis spectroscopy • Neutron three-axis spectroscopy • Neutron threeaxis spectroscopy • Neutron triple axis spectroscopy • Neutron tripleaxis spectroscopy • Noise-Immune Cavity-Enhanced Optical-Heterodyne Molecular Spectroscopy • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy • Optical spectroscopy • Optics and Spectroscopy • Photoacoustic spectroscopy • Photoelectron spectroscopy • Photoemission spectroscopy • Photothermal deflection spectroscopy • Photothermal spectroscopy • Polarization spectroscopy • Positron Lifetime Spectroscopy • Positron annihilation spectroscopy • Protein nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy • Proton Enhanced Nuclear Induction Spectroscopy • Raman spectroscopy • Reflectometric interference spectroscopy • Remission (spectroscopy) • Resonance Raman spectroscopy • Rydberg ionization spectroscopy • Saturated spectroscopy • Slitless spectroscopy • Society for Applied Spectroscopy • Soft X-ray emission spectroscopy • Spatially-offset Raman spectroscopy • Spectroscopy (astronomy) • Spin polarized electron energy loss spectroscopy • Spin polarized electron energy loss spectroscopy (SPEELS) • Stark spectroscopy • Stereoscopic spectroscopy • Surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy • Temporally resolved spectroscopy • Temporally-resolved spectroscopy • Terahertz spectroscopy • Terahertz time-domain spectroscopy • Thermal desorption spectroscopy • Thermal infrared spectroscopy • Three axis spectroscopy • Three-axis spectroscopy • Threeaxis spectroscopy • Time-resolved spectroscopy • Transmission Raman spectroscopy • Transverse relaxation optimized spectroscopy • Triple axis spectroscopy • Triple-axis spectroscopy • Tripleaxis spectroscopy • Tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy • Two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy • Ultra fast laser spectroscopy • Ultrasound attenuation spectroscopy • Ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy • Ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy • Ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy of stereoisomers • Vibrational spectroscopy • Wavelength dispersive X-ray spectroscopy • White cell (spectroscopy) • X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy • X-ray absorption spectroscopy • X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy • X-ray photoemission spectroscopy • X-ray spectroscopy

analogical dictionary



  Analysis of white light by dispersing it with a prism is an example of spectroscopy.

Spectroscopy (play /spɛkˈtrɒskəpi/) is the study of the interaction between matter and radiated energy.[1][2] Historically, spectroscopy originated through the study of visible light dispersed according to its wavelength, e.g., by a prism. Later the concept was expanded greatly to comprise any interaction with radiative energy as a function of its wavelength or frequency. Spectroscopic data is often represented by a spectrum, a plot of the response of interest as a function of wavelength or frequency.



Spectrometry and spectrography are terms used to refer to the measurement of radiation intensity as a function of wavelength and are often used to describe experimental spectroscopic methods. Spectral measurement devices are referred to as spectrometers, spectrophotometers, spectrographs or spectral analyzers.

Daily observations of color can be related to spectroscopy. Neon lighting is a direct application of atomic spectroscopy. Neon and other noble gases have characteristic emission colors, and neon lamps use electricity to excite these emissions. Inks, dyes and paints include chemical compounds selected for their spectral characteristics in order to generate specific colors and hues. A commonly encountered molecular spectrum is that of nitrogen dioxide. Gaseous nitrogen dioxide has a characteristic red absorption feature, and this gives air polluted with nitrogen dioxide a reddish brown color. Rayleigh scattering is a spectroscopic scattering phenomenon that accounts for the color of the sky.

Spectroscopic studies were central to the development of quantum mechanics and included Max Planck's explanation of blackbody radiation, Albert Einstein's explanation of the photoelectric effect and Niels Bohr's explanation of atomic structure and spectra. Spectroscopy is used in physical and analytical chemistry because atoms and molecules have unique spectra. These spectra can be interpreted to derive information about the atoms and molecules, and they can also be used to detect, identify and quantify chemicals. Spectroscopy is also used in astronomy and remote sensing. Most research telescopes have spectrographs. The measured spectra are used to determine the chemical composition and physical properties of astronomical objects (such as their temperature and velocity).


One of the central concepts in spectroscopy is a resonance and its corresponding resonant frequency. Resonances were first characterized in mechanical systems such as pendulums. Mechanical systems that vibrate or oscillate will experience large amplitude oscillations when they are driven at their resonant frequency. A plot of amplitude vs. excitation frequency will have a peak centered at the resonance frequency. This plot is one type of spectrum, with the peak often referred to as a spectral line, and most spectral lines have a similar appearance.

In quantum mechanical systems, the analogous resonance is a coupling of two quantum mechanical stationary states of one system, such as an atom, via an oscillatory source of energy such as a photon. The coupling of the two states is strongest when the energy of the source matches the energy difference between the two states. The energy (E) of a photon is related to its frequency (\nu) by E = h\nu where h is Planck's constant, and so a spectrum of the system response vs. photon frequency will peak at the resonant frequency or energy. Particles such as electrons and neutrons have a comparable relationship, the de Broglie relations, between their kinetic energy and their wavelength and frequency and therefore can also excite resonant interactions.

Spectra of atoms and molecules often consist of a series of spectral lines, each one representing a resonance between two different quantum states. The explanation of these series, and the spectral patterns associated with them, were one of the experimental enigmas that drove the development and acceptance of quantum mechanics. The hydrogen spectral series in particular was first successfully explained by the Rutherford-Bohr quantum model of the hydrogen atom. In some cases spectral lines are well separated and distinguishable, but spectral lines can also overlap and appear to be a single transition if the density of energy states is high enough.

  Classification of methods

Spectroscopy is a sufficiently broad field that many sub-disciplines exist, each with numerous implementations of specific spectroscopic techniques. The various implementations and techniques can be classified in several ways.

  Type of radiative energy

Types of spectroscopy are distinguished by the type of radiative energy involved in the interaction. In many applications, the spectrum is determined by measuring changes in the intensity or frequency of this energy. The types of radiative energy studied include:

  Nature of the interaction

Types of spectroscopy can also be distinguished by the nature of the interaction between the energy and the material. These interactions include[1]:

  • Absorption occurs when energy from the radiative source is absorbed by the material. Absorption is often determined by measuring the fraction of energy transmitted through the material; absorption will decrease the transmitted portion.
  • Emission indicates that radiative energy is released by the material. A material's blackbody spectrum is a spontaneous emission spectrum determined by its temperature. Emission can also be induced by other sources of energy such as flames or sparks or electromagnetic radiation in the case of fluorescence.
  • Elastic scattering and reflection spectroscopy determine how incident radiation is reflected or scattered by a material. Crystallography employs the scattering of high energy radiation, such as x-rays and electrons, to examine the arrangement of atoms in proteins and solid crystals.
  • Impedance spectroscopy studies the ability of a medium to impede or slow the transmittance of energy. For optical applications, this is characterized by the index of refraction.
  • Inelastic scattering phenomena involve an exchange of energy between the radiation and the matter that shifts the wavelength of the scattered radiation. These include Raman and Compton scattering.
  • Coherent or resonance spectroscopy are techniques where the radiative energy couples two quantum states of the material in a coherent interaction that is sustained by the radiating field. The coherence can be disrupted by other interactions, such as particle collisions and energy transfer, and so often require high intensity radiation to be sustained. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is a widely used resonance method and ultrafast laser methods are also now possible in the infrared and visible spectral regions.

  Type of material

Spectroscopic studies are designed so that the radiant energy interacts with specific types of matter.


Atomic spectroscopy was the first application of spectroscopy developed. Atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS) and atomic emission spectroscopy (AES) involve visible and ultraviolet light. These absorptions and emissions, often referred to as atomic spectral lines, are due to electronic transitions of an outer shell electron to an excited state. Atoms also have distinct x-ray spectra that are attributable to the excitation of inner shell electrons to excited states.

Atoms of different elements have distinct spectra and therefore atomic spectroscopy allows for the identification and quantitation of a sample's elemental composition. Robert Bunsen, developer of the Bunsen burner, and Gustav Kirchhoff discovered new elements by observing their emission spectra. Atomic absorption lines are observed in the solar spectrum and referred to as Fraunhofer lines after their discoverer. A comprehensive explanation of the hydrogen spectrum was an early success of quantum mechanics and explaining the Lamb shift observed in the hydrogen spectrum led to the development of quantum electrodynamics.

Modern implementations of atomic spectroscopy for studying visible and ultraviolet transitions include flame emission spectroscopy, inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy, glow discharge spectroscopy, microwave induced plasma spectroscopy, and spark or arc emission spectroscopy. Techniques for studying x-ray spectra include X-ray spectroscopy and X-ray fluorescence (XRF).


The combination of atoms into molecules leads to the creation of unique types of energetic states and therefore unique spectra of the transitions between these states. Molecular spectra can be obtained due to electron spin states (electron paramagnetic resonance), molecular rotations, molecular vibration and electronic states. Rotations are collective motions of the atomic nuclei and typically lead to spectra in the microwave and millimeter-wave spectral regions; rotational spectroscopy and microwave spectroscopy are synonymous. Vibrations are relative motions of the atomic nuclei and are studied by both infrared and Raman spectroscopy. Electronic excitations are studied using visible and ultraviolet spectroscopy as well as fluorescence spectroscopy.

Studies in molecular spectroscopy led to the development of the first maser and contributed to the subsequent development of the laser.

  Crystals and extended materials

The combination of atoms or molecules into crystals or other extended forms leads to the creation of additional energetic states. These states are numerous and therefore have a high density of states. This high density often makes the spectra weaker and less distinct, i.e., broader. For instance, blackbody radiation is due to the thermal motions of atoms and molecules within a material. Acoustic and mechanical responses are due to collective motions as well.

Pure crystals, though, can have distinct spectral transitions and the crystal arrangement also has an effect on the observed molecular spectra. The regular lattice structure of crystals also scatters x-rays, electrons or neutrons allowing for crystallographic studies.


Nuclei also have distinct energy states that are widely separated and lead to gamma ray spectra. Distinct nuclear spin states can have their energy separated by a magnetic field, and this allows for NMR spectroscopy.

  Other types

Other types of spectroscopy are distinguished by specific applications or implementations:


  See also


  1. ^ a b Crouch, Stanley; Skoog, Douglas A. (2007). Principles of instrumental analysis. Australia: Thomson Brooks/Cole. ISBN 0-495-01201-7. 
  2. ^ , DOI:10.1351/pac198658121737 
  3. ^ C.L. Evans and X.S. Xie.2008. Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering Microscopy: Chemical Imaging for Biology and Medicine., doi:10.1146/annurev.anchem.1.031207.112754 Annual Review of Analytical Chemistry, 1: 883–909.
  4. ^ W. Demtröder, Laser Spectroscopy, 3rd Ed. (Springer, 2003).
  5. ^ F. J. Duarte (Ed.),Tunable Laser Applications, 2nd Ed. (CRC, 2009) Chapter 2.
  6. ^ "Mass Spectrometry Terms and Definitions Project Page". http://mass-spec.lsu.edu/msterms/index.php/Mass_spectroscopy. Retrieved 2011-11-25. 
  7. ^ D. R. Solli, J. Chou, and B. Jalali, "Amplified wavelength–time transformation for real-time spectroscopy," Nature Photonics 2, 48-51, 2008. [1]
  8. ^ J. Chou, D. Solli, and B. Jalali, "Real-time spectroscopy with subgigahertz resolution using amplified dispersive Fourier transformation," Applied Physics Letters 92, 111102, 2008. [2]
  9. ^ "Using NIR Spectroscopy to Predict Weathered Wood Exposure Times". http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/pdf2006/fpl_2006_wang002.pdf. 

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