Designing a spectrometer requires knowledge of the problem to be solved, the molecules whose properties will contribute to a solution of that problem and skill in many subfields of science and engineering. A seemingly simple problem, design of an ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared spectrometer, is used to show the reasoning behind the trade-offs in instrument design. Rather than reporting a fully optimized instrument, the Yin and Yang of design choices, leading to decisions about financial cost, materials choice, resolution, throughput, aperture, and layout are described. To limit scope, aspects such as grating blaze, electronics design, and light sources are not presented. The review illustrates the mixture of mathematical rigor, rule of thumb, esthetics, and availability of components that contribute to the art of spectrometer design.
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