History of Spectroscopy

  • How it all started

    How it all started

    The ongoing development of optical measuring instruments at the end of the 19th century played a key role in the increasing international success of Carl Zeiss. In 1890 Carl Pulfrich, the inventor of stereo photogrammetry, came to Jena. In order to advance the development of optical systems for chemical analysis, he founded the Optical Measuring Instruments division, becoming its head two years later.

    After World War II and the partition of Germany, Carl Zeiss was split up as well. In addition to the traditional site in Jena, there was now a new firm 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 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. The remaining department, which specialized primarily in process analytics, was part of the Microscopy business group until 2015 and joined the newly founded Carl Zeiss Spectroscopy GmbH on July 1,2015.


    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 course of 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.

  • 1899 – 1945
    Abbe-type refractometer, 1904.


    The Abbe refractometer was used to measure the refractive index of liquids. With known composition, the concentration of solutions was then able to be determined.

    Abbe-type spectrometer (No. 1), 1899.


    The first Abbe-type spectrometer was a prism spectrometer which used a prism system for the spectral dispersion of light.

    Pulfrich photometer, 1940.


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

    Quarz  spectrograph Q 24


    The Q 24 quartz spectrograph is a special instrument used for conducting spectral analysis in the ultraviolet wavelength range up to 2,000 angstroms.

    Q 12.


    Universal spectrograph Q 12.

  • 1946 – 1989


    SPEKOL: electric light grating system; universal, method-specific measuring approaches.


    LMA 1: Laser microspectral analyzer - used for the spectral analysis of microscopically small specimen areas between 10 µm and 250 µm in crystalline and amorphous solid bodies.


    SPECORD UV-VIS dual-beam spectrophotometer: the first instrument of the SPECORD series.


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


    LMA 10: Laser microsspectral analyzer - a device used for the spectral analysis of mirco-emissions.


    The MCS diode array simultaneous spectrometer was unveiled and entered 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.

  • 1990 – 2003


    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.


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

  • 2004 – today


    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; exchanging the grating facilitates variable spectral ranges,


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