The design and use of digital optical spectrometer in teaching physics in high school

Danijel Ptičar, Vesna Marić


While studying the wave nature of light in high school, it would be useful for the school to have a spectrometer so the students could see the example of using the diffraction of light for determining the wave lengths of sources of light. The students would also be able to study which wave lengths different sources of light consist of and in some cases determine the chemical elements in the source of light. Considering the fact that the price of a commercial spectrometer is around $1000, we decided to try to make a digital spectrometer using a microcontroller and linear CDD sensors. With the help of the author, 4th grade computer technician students participated in the making of the spectrometer as part of their Microcontroller class. The result was quite successful, for the price of $20 we managed to make a digital spectrometer for a spectrum of 350 nm to 800 nm, precision and resolution of 1 nm and it was used in our physics classroom. This paper describes the construction and calibration of the spectrometer, the programming tools and components necessary for making a spectrometer and most importantly the use of a spectrometer like this in high school physics classrooms.


spectrometer; Arduino; STEM; light diffraction

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