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Home > Measurement Techniques > Reflectance & Transmittance

Reflectance & Transmittance

ReflectanceWithout reflected light, our eyes would be unable to see the color or texture of objects. Reflection allows us to perceive the world around us. The human eye does amazing things with reflected light, using it to identify shapes and patterns, and even sense the distance of an object. To a spectrometer, however, reflection is simply the fraction of light reflected from a surface as a function of wavelength.

When properly measured, spectral reflectance can yield much of the same information as the eye, but it does so more quantitatively and objectively. A spectral reflectance measurement can compare two yellow objects, or different textures. It can also offer information about the material from which a sample is made, since light that is not reflected from a sample is absorbed due to its chemical composition, otherwise it is scattered or transmitted.

Reflectance measurements can measure the color of a sample, or examine differences between objects for sorting or quality control. The samples may be automotive parts, paint, coffee beans, dyed human hair or lizards, making it challenging to choose the right system.

So what’s our secret? We understand how each optic works to probe the sample. Once you understand them as well, the choice is simple. We’d like to help you do that, and give you some tips on how to get the best results for your sample.

Just be warned – you might find yourself measuring everything in the lab once you get the hang of it, even your lunch.

Advantages

  • Non-destructive: Unless the sample is photo-sensitive, the measurement can be repeated endlessly without altering the sample.
  • Quantitative: More accurate than the human eye for comparing objects or surfaces.
  • Local: Only the surface of the sample is measured, not its interior.

Applications

Other Common Applications

  • Sorting & differentiation: plastic resins, paint, food products, recycling operations
  • Color measurements: textiles, industrial products, paint
  • Quality control: organic fibers like wool, cotton and wood pulp; finished wood products, bales of hay, soil and manure
  • Research: fish eyes, bird feathers
  • Material characterization: plastics, metals, mineral powders, soil, core samples
  • Food testing: moisture, protein, fat, carbohydrates, and sugar content in seeds, grains, fruits, vegetables, oils, flour, and dairy products
  • Noninvasive testing: blood glucose monitoring through the skin, bilirubin in infants
  • Thin film thickness: semiconductor materials, polymers, biological films, sensors
  • Forensics: age of bloodstains

Application Notes:

Technical Note

What Is the Difference Between Specular and Diffuse Reflectance?

The texture of surfaces makes them reflect light differently. Very smooth surfaces like mirrors have high specular reflection, which means all the incident light is reflected in the same direction (angle of reflection = angle of incidence). Rough or matte surfaces have diffuse reflection, which means the incident light gets scattered in all directions. Most surfaces are in between, with a combination of specular and diffuse reflectance. Most of our vision comes from diffuse reflection from objects, so this is what we usually want to measure.

Reflectance

Featured Products for Reflectance and Transmittance:

Reflectance

Torus Torus works well for applications where low stray light, high throughput and thermal stability are necessary. It is responsive from 360-825 nm.

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Reflectance & Transmittance Reflectance & Transmittance

The basic components to perform a reflection measurement using an Ocean Optics Flame spectrometer, software and sampling accessories. Without reflected light, our eyes would be unable to see the color or texture of objects. Reflection allows us to perceive the world around us. The human eye does amazing things with reflected light, using it to identify shapes and patterns, and even sense the distance of an object. To a spectrometer, however, reflection is simply the fraction of light reflected from a surface as a function of wavelength.

Flame Spectrometer

Flame Spectrometer

High Thermal Stability, Interchangeable Slits
JAZ Spectrometer

JAZ Spectrometer

Handheld Spectrometer for UV-Vis Measurements
FLAME-BUNDLE-REFLECTANCE

FLAME-BUNDLE-REFLECTANCE

Application-Ready System for Reflectance
Reflectance Probe

Reflectance Probe

Diffuse Reflectance Probe with Integrated Light Source
DynaCup

DynaCup

Rotating Sample Stage
Spark-VIS

Spark-VIS

Ultra-compact Visible Spectral Sensor
RPH Reflection Probe Holders

RPH Reflection Probe Holders

Fixtures for Mounting Probes in Reflection Setups
USB2000+ (Custom)

USB2000+ (Custom)

Custom Configured Spectrometer for Setup Flexibility
STS Developers Kit

STS Developers Kit

Connect, Code, Create with New Sensing Tools
QE Pro (Custom)

QE Pro (Custom)

High-sensitivity Spectrometer for Low Light Level Applications
Maya2000 Pro (Custom)

Maya2000 Pro (Custom)

High Sensitivity Spectrometer
NIRQuest512

NIRQuest512

Small-footprint Spectrometer for Near-Infrared Measurements
STS-UV

STS-UV

UV Spectral Analysis in a Tiny Footprint
USB4000 (Custom)

USB4000 (Custom)

Custom Configured for Maximum Flexibility
Maya LSL Spectrometer

Maya LSL Spectrometer

Low Stray Light with High Sensitivity
NIRQuest512-2.5

NIRQuest512-2.5

Small-footprint Spectrometer for Near-Infrared Measurements
HR4000 (Custom)

HR4000 (Custom)

High Resolution Spectrometer for Maximum Flexibility
Maya2000 Pro-NIR

Maya2000 Pro-NIR

High-sensitivity Spectrometer for Raman and NIR Applications
STS-VIS

STS-VIS

Vis Spectral Analysis in a Tiny Footprint
HR2000+ (Custom)

HR2000+ (Custom)

Custom High Resolution Spectrometer for Maximum Flexibility
QE Pro-ABS

QE Pro-ABS

High-sensitivity Spectrometer for Absorbance
Torus

Torus

High Throughput Compact Spectrometer for Color Measurements and Light Metrology
STS-NIR

STS-NIR

NIR Spectral Analysis in a Tiny Footprint
USB2000+UV-VIS

USB2000+UV-VIS

Application-ready Spectrometer for the UV-VIS
HR2000+CG

HR2000+CG

High Resolution Spectrometer for Biological and Chemical Applications
EMBED Spectrometer

EMBED Spectrometer

Robust, Stable Spectrometer for OEM Applications
NIRQuest512-1.9

NIRQuest512-1.9

Small-footprint Spectrometer for Near-Infrared Measurements
USB2000+XR1

USB2000+XR1

Extended Range Spectrometer for UV-NIR applications
HR4000CG-UV-NIR

HR4000CG-UV-NIR

High Resolution Spectrometer for Laser Characterization
NIRQuest512-2.2

NIRQuest512-2.2

Small-footprint Spectrometer for Near-Infrared Measurements