A spectroscopic instrument or spectrometer generally consists of entrance slit, collimator, a dispersive element, such as a grating or prism, focusing optics and detector. In a monochromator system there is normally also an exit slit, and only a narrow portion of the spectrum is projected on a one-element detector. In monochromators the entrance and exit slits are in a fixed position and can be changed in width. Rotating the grating scans the spectrum.

The development of micro-electronics during the 90’s in the field of multi-element optical detectors, such as Charged Coupled Devices (CCD) arrays and Photo-Diode (PD) arrays, enabled the production of low cost scanners, CCD cameras, etc. These same CCD and PDA detectors are now used in the Avantes AvaSpec line of spectrometers, enabling fast scanning of the spectrum, without the need for a moving grating.

Thanks to the need for fiber-optics in the communication technology, low absorption silica fibers have been developed. Similar fibers can be used as measurement fibers to transport light from the sample to the optical bench of the spectrometer. The easy coupling of fibers allows a modular build-up of a system that consists of light source, sampling accessories and fiber-optic spectrometer. Furthermore fiber-optic enable the introduction of sampling into harsh and difficult to access environments.

The low cost, modularity, flexibility and speed of measurement made possible by fiber-optic spectrometers have resulted in wide adoption of this technology in a variety of industries.