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nmz787 wrote 07/09/2014 at 00:48 point
Maybe, it depends on what you want to look for exactly, how prevalent it is, how distinguishable from natural stuff it is, how sensitive the detector is. I have been designing open-spectrometer with the goal of being useful for scientific work, where accuracy and precision are key. Sensitivity should be on-par with or better than commercially available devices in the $700-$4000 range, as the sensors used in such systems are identical to what I am using (I took inspiration from them), but I am using an higher-quality grating which is often a few thousand dollars extra upgrade. These gratings are more expensive, but less optical components (easier to build) and also aberration-corrected to produce a more linear spread of the wavelengths, with lower noise from 'higher orders' (aka 'ghost' images of the rainbow spectrum) falling onto the detector.

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grindel wrote 07/09/2014 at 00:34 point
Can the spectrometer determine the makeup of the air? It seems like this would be valuable when looking at air quality or possibly the makeup of engine exhaust

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