History of Spectroscopy

How it all began

The ongoing development of optical measuring instruments at the end of the 19th century played a key role in the increasing international success of ZEISS. Carl Pulfrich joined Carl Zeiss in 1890. In order to promote the development of optical systems for chemical analysis, he founded and became head of the Optical Measuring Instruments division.

After World War II and the partition of Germany, Carl Zeiss was also separated. In addition to the site in Jena, there was now a new company in Oberkochen. It was not until 1952 that the Optical Measuring Instruments division was able to offer the entire pre-war product line again. Initially, the whole range of optical metrology instruments was offered both in Jena and Oberkochen. In 1994, after reunification of the two companies, large parts of the Optical Metrology division were sold off. The remaining department, which specialized primarily in process analytics, was part of the Microscopy business group until 2015 and was moved to the newly formed Carl Zeiss Spectroscopy GmbH on 1 July 2015.


Chemical analytical technology boasts over 100 years of innovation and development history at ZEISS. With the first Abbe refractometer in 1874 and the Pulfrich refractor in 1895, Carl Zeiss Jena laid the foundation for materials analysis. Over the years, the company has sharpened its focus on the field of spectroscopy, in which radiation is dispersed according to its energy. Examples of important innovations along the way are SPEKOL and the LMA 1® laser micro-spectral analyzer in the 1960s. Since 1985, ZEISS has revolutionized the field of spectrometry from ultraviolet light to the near-infrared range with its diode array spectrometers of the MMS, MCS and PGS families.


The Abbe refractometer was used to measure the refractive index of liquids. In this way the concentration of solutions was determined with known composition.


The first spectrometer based on Abbe’s calculations, a prism spectrometer, where the spectral dispersion of light occurs via a prism system.


To measure colors, Carl Pulfrich devised the photometer named after him.


The quartz spectrograph Q 24 is a special device used for spectral analytical investigations in the ultraviolet wavelength up to 2,000 angstrom units.


The S-Planar 10/0.28 lens with a resolution of 1 micrometer is used in the first wafer stepper worldwide made by American company David Mann (later GCA). In the following years, this development led to the first boom for the semiconductor division of ZEISS.


SPEKOL: Light-electric grating system, universal, method-specific measuring approach


LMA 1: Laser micro spectral analyzer – used for the spectral analysis of microscopically small sample areas from 10 to 250 µm in crystalline and amorphous solid bodies.


SPECORD UV-VIS dual-beam spectral photometer: first system in the SPECORD series.


SPECORD 71 IR and SPECORD 72 IR dual-beam infrared spectral photometer.


LMA 10: Laser microspectral analyzer – a device for micro-emissions spectral analysis.


The MCS diode array simultaneous spectrometer is unveiled and enters series production in 1985.


Simultaneous spectrometer combines several leading-edge technologies and is honored with the American IR-100 Award as one of the 100 most important developments of 1984, and shortly thereafter with the 1985 Innovation Award of German Industry.


PLASMAQUANT 100: ICP spectrometer


MMS 1: Monolithic miniature spectrometer.


MMS NIR: Monolithic miniature spectrometer for the near-infrared range. First diode array spectrometer for the NIR range.


Low-cost MMS: Monolithic miniature spectrometer, plastic design. Comparable optical parameters at 1/10 the price of a traditional model.


MCS 600 diode array spectrometer. The advanced electronic principle makes it possible to use software to set and monitor all spectrometric components. It provides unlimited potential combinations of lamps and spectrometer cassettes.


PGS plane grating spectrometer. In a metal housing; allowing for a variable spectral range by exchanging the grating.


MMS CCD monolithic miniature spectrometer with CCD array. Ten times higher sensitivity than conventional MMS sensors with photo diode arrays.