Optimal filter design of two-channel near-infrared filter photometers is investigated for simulated two-component systems consisting of an analyte and a spectrally overlapping interferent. The degree of overlap between the analyte and interferent bands is varied over three levels. The optimal design is obtained for three cases: a source or background flicker noise limited case, a shot noise limited case, and a detector noise limited case. Conventional photometers consist of narrow-band optical filters with their bands located at discrete wavelengths. However, the use of broadband optical filters with overlapping responses has been proposed to obtain as much signal as possible from a weak and broad analyte band typical of near-infrared absorptions. One question regarding the use of broadband optical filters with overlapping responses is the selectivity achieved by such filters. The selectivity of two-channel photometers is evaluated on the basis of the angle between the analyte and interferent vectors in the space spanned by the relative change recorded for each of the two detector channels. This study shows that for the shot noise limited or detector noise limited cases, the slight decrease in selectivity with the use of broadband optical filters can be compensated by the higher signal-to-noise ratio afforded by the use of such filters. For the source noise limited case, the best quantitative results are obtained with the use of narrow-band non-overlapping optical filters.
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