October 13, 2020

Optical spectrometers are instruments with a wide variety of uses. By measuring the intensity of light across different wavelengths, they can be used to image tissues or measure the chemical composition of everything from a distant galaxy to a leaf. Now researchers at the UC Davis Department of Biomedical Engineering have come up a with a new, rapid method for characterizing and calibrating spectrometers, based on how they respond to “noise.”

Spectral resolution measures how well a spectrometer can distinguish light of different wavelengths. It’s also important to be able to calibrate the spectrometer so that different instruments will give reliably consistent results. Current methods for characterizing and calibrating spectrometers are relatively slow and cumbersome. For example, to measure how the spectrometer responds to different wavelengths, you would shine multiple lasers of different wavelengths on it.