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Home > News & Events > Spectroscopy for the Earth

Spectroscopy for the Earth

Commemorating Earth Day 2016

Air Quality ImageYou don’t have to be an environmentalist to appreciate the role of science in helping to understand, shape, monitor and predict the behavior of our planet. And so, in acknowledgement of Earth Day 2016, we celebrate how spectroscopy is used for various applications focused on the Earth and its inhabitants.

Spectral instrumentation has been used to address environmental applications such as open-path air quality monitoring in cities, sulfur dioxide analysis in volcanoes, and coral reef fluorescence as an indicator of ocean health. Also, spectroscopy has helped in the development of sustainable energy technologies such as photovoltaics and biofuels, where parameters can be monitored under conditions that match anticipated usage conditions.

Ocean Optics Spectrometers and “Earth” Applications

The name “Ocean Optics” was inspired, in part, by the U.S. Department of Energy Small Business Innovation Research grant that gave the company its start. The research funded by that grant involved making spectroscopic measurements of pH in the ocean.

Since then, Ocean Optics spectrometers have been part of numerous applications related to the environment. Here is a sampling:

Air and Water Quality

Drop of Water

Application Featured Spectrometer Technique Purpose
Monitoring air quality Maya2000 Pro Transmission Real-time determination of harmful vehicle emissions in major cities
Monitoring aquaponics systems Flame-S-UV-VIS Transmission Maintaining balance of nutrients and pH in aquaponics systems
Monitoring atmospheric sulfur Maya2000 Pro Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy Understanding and forecasting of volcanic activity and emissions

Earth Sciences for Research and Education


Application Featured Spectrometer Technique Purpose
Aerial study of volcanic emissions Flame Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy Analysis of volatile chemical elements in volcanic plumes
Authenticating protected coral species Customized OEM Spectrometer Raman Identifying endangered coral species used illegally in commercial trade
Soil analysis NIRQuest NIR Reflectance Better management of soil for agriculture applications

Materials Analysis

Solar Power Plant

Application Featured Spectrometer Technique Purpose
Characterization of biofuels Maya2000 Pro-NIR Raman Determination of critical fuel parameters in biofuels
Plastic sorting for recycling Flame-NIR, Ventana Reflectance, Raman Improving the efficiency of recycling processes
Testing of organic solar cell materials USB4000-UV-VIS Reflectance Development of sustainable technologies

Plant and Animal Life

Flock of Sheep

Application Featured Spectrometer Technique Purpose
Mercury detection QE Pro Fluorescence Screening for mercury contamination in soil, water and fish
Nutrition in grazing animals NIRQuest512 Reflectance More effective management of grazing herds
Remote sensing of grassland STS microspectrometer mounted on unmanned aerial vehicle Reflectance Crop management