World Journal of Chemical Education
ISSN (Print): 2375-1665 ISSN (Online): 2375-1657 Website: Editor-in-chief: Prof. V. Jagannadham
Open Access
Journal Browser
World Journal of Chemical Education. 2021, 9(4), 144-151
DOI: 10.12691/wjce-9-4-7
Open AccessSpecial Issue

Low-cost Spectroscopy: Experiments in Various Spectral Ranges

Patrick Gräb1, Ekkehard Geidel1, and Hans-Christian Schmitt2

1Didactics of Chemistry, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, 97074 Würzburg, Germany

2Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, 97074 Würzburg, Germany

Pub. Date: November 28, 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photoprocesses in Chemical Education)

Cite this paper:
Patrick Gräb, Ekkehard Geidel and Hans-Christian Schmitt. Low-cost Spectroscopy: Experiments in Various Spectral Ranges. World Journal of Chemical Education. 2021; 9(4):144-151. doi: 10.12691/wjce-9-4-7


Teaching the basic principles of molecular spectroscopic techniques on an experimental basis is often a particular challenge due to the relatively high cost of the required experimental equipment. The present contribution therefore offers an experimentally-based introduction into the field of spectroscopy using low-cost devices for practical courses at undergraduate level and for chemistry lessons in high schools. Using low-cost devices are also useful for schools in developing countries or poorly-funded school systems. Several experiments, specifically tailored for chemistry lessons, are developed, aiming to provide a close relation to the everyday life experience of students. Initially, a simple spectrometer working within the visible range of light is constructed by the student themselves. This low-cost dispersive spectrometer is employed for quantitative food analyses. In a second step, an introduction to spectroscopy in the near-infrared range is given using an example based on the identification of plastics. On this basis, a model experiment using a self-constructed apparatus for plastic waste separation in miniature was developed. Finally, experiments in the mid-infrared range are presented. They introduce into the functionality of a Michelson interferometer and demonstrate the use of low-cost carbon dioxide sensors. Using this strategy, students gain easier access to an understanding of radiation-matter interaction.

low-cost spectrometer plastic waste separation in miniature Michelson interferometer CO2 sensor

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


[1]  Schairer, P., Wagner, S., and Geidel, E., “An Experimental Introduction to Basic Principles of the Interaction of Electromagnetic Radiation with Matter,” World Journal of Chemical Education, 6(1), 29-35, Jan. 2018.
[2]  Grasse, E. K., Torcasio, M. H., and Smith, A. W., “Teaching UV-Vis Spectroscopy with a 3D-Printable Smartphone Spectrophotometer,” Journal of Chemical Education, 93(1), 146-151, Jan. 2016.
[3]  Bougot-Robin, K., Paget, J., Atkins, S. C., and Edel, J. B., “Optimization and Design of an Absorbance Spectrometer Controlled Using a Raspberry Pi To Improve Analytical Skills,” Journal of Chemical Education, 93(7), 1232-1240, Jul. 2016.
[4]  Gräb, P., Kahre, M., Woßmann, P., and Geidel, E., “Selbst messen und Versuche digital auswerten,” Nachrichten aus der Chemie, 69(7-8), 14-17, 2021.
[5]  Gräb, P. and Geidel, E., “Spectroscopic Studies of Food Colorings,” World Journal of Chemical Education, 7(2), 136-144, Apr. 2019.
[6]  Gräb, P., Kahre, M., and Woßmann, P., “Low-Cost Messgeräte,” 2021. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 05-Mar-2021].
[7]  Lottspeich, F. and Engels, J. W., Bioanalytics: Analytical Methods and Concepts in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, John Wiley & Sons, 2018.
[8]  Sapan, C. V., Lundblad, R. L., and Price, N. C., “Colorimetric protein assay techniques,” Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry, 29(2), 99-108, 1999.
[9]  Matissek, R. and Baltes, W., Lebensmittelchemie, 8th ed., Berlin [u.a.], Springer Spektrum, 2016.
[10]  Studdert, D. M., Flanders, J., and Mello, M. M., “Searching for Public Health Law’s Sweet Spot: The Regulation of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages,” PLoS Medicine, 12(7), Jul. 2015.
[11]  Harrison, T., Gros, N., Dolinar, A. K., and Drusany, I. Š., “Spectrometry at school: hands-on experiments,” Science in School, (14), 42-47, 2010.
[12]  Burns, D. A., Handbook of Near-Infrared Analysis, 3rd ed., Boca Raton, FL [u.a.], CRC Press [u.a.], 2008.
[13]  Wold, S., “Chemometrics; what do we mean with it, and what do we want from it?,” Chemometrics and Intelligent Laboratory Systems, 30(1), 109-115, Nov. 1995.
[14]  Eisenreich, N. and Rohe, T., “Infrared Spectroscopy in Analysis of Plastics Recycling,” Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. John Wiley & Sons, 2006.
[15]  Colthup, N., Daly, L., and Wiberley, S., Introduction to Infrared and Raman Spectroscopy, 3rd ed., New York, Elsevier, 1990.
[16]  Karge, H. G. and Geidel, E., “Vibrational Spectroscopy,” in Molecular Sieves - Science and Technology, Berlin, Springer Verlag, 2004, 1-200.
[17]  Thorlabs, “Michelson-Interferometer-Kit,” 2021. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 01-Jun-2021].
[18]  Halliday, D., Resnick, R., and Walker, J., Halliday Physik für natur- und ingenieurwissenschaftliche Studiengänge, 3rd ed., Weinheim, Wiley-VCH, 2020.
[19]  Lide, D. R., CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 87th ed., Boca Raton [u.a.], Taylor & Francis, 2006.
[20]  Weidlein, J., Müller, U., and Dehnicke, K., Schwingungsspektroskopie: Eine Einführung, 2nd ed., Stuttgart, Georg Thieme Verlag, 1988.
[21]  seeed, “Grove - CO2 & Temperature & Humidity Sensor for Arduino (SCD30) - 3-in-1,” 2021. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 19-Apr-2021].