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Beckman DU UV-Vis Spectrophotometer and Power Supply

  • Manufactured by Beckman Instruments
    Made in South Pasadena and Fullerton, California
  • 10.25 in. H x 32.25 in. W x 7 in. D
    Iron, plastic, rubber, glass
  • On display in Making Modernity
  • Gift of Capital University (deposited by G. Clark Dehne, Ph.D.)
  • 2003.033.003A-B


This Spectrophotometer was originally designed in 1941 and quickly became one of the most essential instruments in the postwar era. Though it is not automatic, its manual scanning method was extremely fast and accurate and covered both the visible and ultraviolet spectrums. The DU was available to most scientists and was extremely affordable.

Spectrophotometers determine the composition of a solution (or the concentration of certain substances within a solution) by measuring how the solution absorbs a particular wavelength of light. By varying the wavelengths in each measurement, one can take a spectrum of a solution and ascertain the composition. More advanced spectrophotometers can measure beyond the visible spectrum, providing readings for ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths.

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Arnold O. Beckman

CHF’s Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry was started with a generous grant from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation in 1987.



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