How do you differentiate between the three?

I read that "Spectrometry deals with the measurement of a specific spectrum. There are four primary types of spectrometers:

  1. Mass spectrometry 2. Neutron triple axis spectrometry 3. Ion-mobility spectrometry 4. Rutherford backscattering spectrometry"

How about Raman Spectrometers and Infrared Spectrometers. Don't they belong to spectrometry?

Some believe that the main difference is that spectroscopy typically deals with light, mass spectrometry does not.

So do you called it Raman spectroscopy or it is not right to refer it as Raman spectrometry?

It's confusing.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ 'Spectrometry' means measuring spectra of any sort and more specifically 'spectroscopy' measuring spectra as a result of interaction of light or radiation in general. A 'spectrum' means measurement of some quantity on a scale between two limits. $\endgroup$
    – porphyrin
    Sep 29, 2019 at 16:14

1 Answer 1


Long time ago, I wrote mass spectroscopy, by mistake, in an undergraduate exam and the instructor told me "You were the only one in my class who wrote mass spectroscopy." The explanation was that MS is mass spectrometry because it does not deal with light or electromagnetic radiation and that's what the textbook said. At that time internet was not that common. Now I searched the term "mass spectroscopy" in papers using Google Scholar and there are 1,100,000 results with this exact phrase. There are 2,330,000 results for mass spectrometry.

It seems, given the usage, and the difference is not that strict. Consulting the controller of all chemical terminologies, IUPAC says


The study of physical systems by the electromagnetic radiation with which they interact or that thay [spelling mistake] produce. Spectrometry is the measurement of such radiations as a means of obtaining information about the systems and their components. In certain types of optical spectroscopy, the radiation originates from an external source and is modified by the system, whereas in other types, the radiation originates within the system itself.

You will see famous books, especially by Griffiths with the title "Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometry" and nobody raised an eyebrow.

  • $\begingroup$ In the Export Strategic dual list items controlled listing, there is this passage: "3A999 Specific processing equipment, n.e.s., as follows (see List of Items Controlled). f. Chromatography and spectrometry analytical instruments." Do you think the spectrometry above also cover Raman spectrometers? Or only mass spectrometers or alike those not related to light? $\endgroup$
    – Jtl
    Sep 29, 2019 at 22:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Jtl likely yes. While chromatography equipment may serve for actual preparation of strategic compounds, mass spect. does not. And the text specifies "analytical", so all spectro(photo)meters could be included. $\endgroup$
    – Alchimista
    Sep 30, 2019 at 9:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Alchimista Thanks. Please look at this HTS (Harmonized Tariff Schedule). imagizer.imageshack.com/img921/9388/N8HbhY.png Do you consider Spectrometer as "Electrical" or "Other"? I know spectrometer is electronic. But it doesn't run on electricity even when there is a CCD sensor. Or is it electrical since the adapter or USB can be powered by electricity? Or is there other distinction I missed? $\endgroup$
    – Jtl
    Sep 30, 2019 at 12:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Jtl I have no idea what they mean. Neglet power source as for nothing is run by a crank, it is obscure to me. If you have a raman I would call it spectrometer or spectrophotometer (by means of which you can do spectrometry/spectroscopy, in be in line with the answer above). $\endgroup$
    – Alchimista
    Oct 1, 2019 at 8:40
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    $\begingroup$ While I'm not sure about English usage, I think there may have been a shift in the usage of the corresponding terms in German (Spektrometer, Spektroskop, Spektrometrie, Spektroskopie). I first learned spectrometer/spectrometry => implies quantitation (of intensity), which was not (necessarily) the case with spectroscopy and certainly not with a spectroscope (an instrument for visual comparison of e.g. atomic emission lines against reference; skop IIRC is greek meaning "look at"). Later I've also met "if it's about electromagnetic waves, it's spectroscopy" instead. $\endgroup$ Oct 6, 2019 at 15:08

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