When using a spectrograph to photograph an emission spectrum consisting of sharp lines, there is little advantage to using a slit wide enough to degrade greatly the resolution. In contrast, when observing absorption or emission spectra with a spectrometer, the power arriving at the detector can be increased dramatically by widening the entrance and exit slits. Most infrared investigations in the past have been made with such wide slits that the resolution was well below the diffraction limit. The pioneering work of Rank and his co-workers was a notable exception. Today, however, with the availability of large echelles and the recent construction of large research spectrometers to high optical and mechanical standards, diffraction-limited infrared spectroscopy is becoming increasingly widespread.
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