Public Lab Research note


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Scan and compare different gases (in discharge tubes, like neon) using a DIY spectrometer

by warren |

A common classroom activity I remember is to scan different excited gases (safely inside glass tubes, the way a neon light works) using a spectrometer. Public Lab's [foldable spectrometry kit](/wiki/foldable-spec) makes this even more interactive -- you can make your own paper spectrometer with a DVD as a diffraction grating, and every student can make their own scans.

(Lead image by Wikipedia contributor Alchemist-hp www.pse-mendelejew.de - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.0 de, Link)


1. Construct a spectrometer

First, follow these instructions to make a spectrometer: https://publiclab.org/notes/abdul/10-19-2016/foldable-paper-spectrometer-instructions


2. Calibrate it

(optional but really helpful!) Follow these steps to calibrate on https://spectralworkbench.org :

https://publiclab.org/notes/warren/09-01-2016/calibrating-your-spectrometer-in-spectral-workbench


3. Point it at a gas light source in a dark room

Use the button below to post your results, with a photo and a link to your spectrum at SpectralWorkbench.org!

What kind of gas are you scanning? What are the spectral excitation lines you're looking for?

See these resources for next steps:


Are you a teacher?

If you're teaching a class using these resources, and have improvements or changes to suggest, please leave a comment below! You're welcome to use this activity or to modify and improve on it. We'd love your input!


Post your attempt to replicate this activity  Browse other activities for "spectrometry"


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spectrometer education spectrometry neon classroom helium gas co2 foldable-spec science-fair gases curricula science-class

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