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Prototype for the Perkin-Elmer Model 12 Infrared Spectrophotometer

  • ca. 1943–1945
  • Manufactured by the Perkin-Elmer Corporation
  • 11.25 in. H x 26.875 in. W x 14.75 in. D
    Iron, steel, brass, glass
  • On display in Making Modernity
  • Gift of the Bodenseewerk Perkin-Elmer Museum of Instrumental Analysis, Überlingen, Germany
  • Bodensee Collection
  • 2002.003.045


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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