Optimizing Cary 60 UV-Vis Analyses – Part 1 of 2

Cary 60 UV-Vis spectrophotometer with fiber optic sampling probe

Cary 60 UV-Vis does it all: “Yes, we scan!”

The Cary 60 UV-Vis has a long-standing reputation of being a powerful workhorse in the routine analysis UV-Vis market. The system handles everything from routine pharmaceutical analyses to optical filters, semi-conductor applications, and many things in-between. In addition to incredible versatility, the Cary 60 UV-Vis system’s ultra-bright xenon flash lamp is truly in a class of its own. We’re so confident in the reliability and long lifetime of our flash lamps that we provide every Cary 60 with a 10-year flash lamp warranty, for ultimate peace-of-mind*.

While the Cary WinUV software’s default parameters work well for most experiments, here are a few tips for those wanting the highest spectral fidelity possible.

I can see the light—literally!

The Cary WinUV software has a fantastic but often missed feature which can greatly assist in experiment setup. The “Align” function, accessed via the “Commands” menu at the top of the main software interface, temporarily shifts the Cary 60 UV-Vis’ output to white light, which can be seen by the human eye, making it easy to identify where the 1.5 mm diameter beam is concentrated on a sample. This is especially useful with low volume cuvettes and small sized samples, where minor adjustments to sample holder position can ensure the entire beam goes through its intended path. Scenarios where the beam catches the edge of a cuvette window, sample, or liquid meniscus can cause a decrease in performance, often showing up as increased noise. Be careful however to avoid looking at the beam directly, as it is quite bright and could be harmful. 

 Cary WinUV Align function outputting white light in the sample compartment 

The need for (different) speeds

While the Cary 60 UV-Vis has the capacity to scan through its entire spectrum in as fast as 2.5 seconds, such speeds may not be apt for in-depth analysis of samples. Most users opt for the default “Medium” speed, which does a great job on most samples. Challenging samples may require slower speeds, thereby improving the signal-to-noise of the spectrum. The Scan Control presets present us with “Slow” and “Slowest” as alternatives, however more granularity in selecting scan speed is possible if desired.

Within the Setup window’s Cary Options tab, switching to “Advanced” displays a new set of values which can offer finer scan speed control. Knowing the simple relationship between these values will most certainly help in determining a proper balance between speed and quality of spectra acquisition:

  • Averaging Time controls how long the Cary 60 UV-Vis’ spectrophotometer spends collecting light at each wavelength.
  • Data Interval controls the distance in nanometers between each data point on the spectrum.
  • Scan Rate is the resulting speed determined from Averaging Time and Data Interval. Please note this value is automatically updated when altering either of the two above values.

Cary WinUV advanced scan controls

Increasing the Averaging Time is the easiest way of improving the signal-to-noise ratio of a spectrum, while decreasing the Data Interval will more accurately illustrate finer spectral details. Tweaking both parameters, depending on experimental needs, can provide more efficient scanning overall, rather than relying on the preset scanning speeds.

Tune in next time!

Today we’ve covered two quick methods of optimizing Cary 60 UV-Vis hardware parameters to provide the best looking spectra possible. Be sure to check out Part 2 of this series, where we’ll look at how the Cary WinUV software can help spectra look their best through dataplot formatting options and annotations.

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Further reading:

*Xenon flash lamp warranty applies to new Cary 60 instruments purchased from Agilent or participating partners. 10-year flash lamp warranties are also available on Cary 3500 UV-Vis and Cary Eclipse Fluorescence instruments.

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