26th March 2021

Book in Focus

Derivative Spectroscopy

By Dr Joseph Dubrovkin

For hundreds of years, improving the resolution of scientific instruments was one of the main concerns of optical techniques. The importance of this problem is shown by studies which claim that the human perception of images strongly depends on their resolution. Particularly in spectroscopy, overlapping contours make it difficult to assign each elementary curve component to some physical-chemistry phenomenon. In the early 1950s, it was discovered that the mathematical even-order derivatives of spectra were remarkably similar to the original spectra, albeit significantly sharpened. This “magic” property of differentiation led to the emergence of a new direction in spectroscopy: so-called derivative spectroscopy (DS).

Interestingly, the search for the characteristic points of the graph of a function, well-known from mathematics, was applied to mass spectra by Lord Rutherford in the early 1920s. In addition, this method was also used in electrochemistry. However, DS is not a trivial differentiation of spectra, but, rather, allows us to obtain approximated derivatives using analogous, digital and optical (modulation) methods. Background suppression, the appearance of new analytical points, and noise reduction in optical modulation spectroscopy are all additional advantages of DS.

Hundreds of review articles and several monographs dedicated to the theory, techniques, and applications of DS (including modulation spectroscopy) have been published over the past 50 years. However, the first full-volume study in Russian (Dubrovkin and Belikov’s Derivative Spectrometry: Theory, Technology, and Application) was unavailable for English-speaking readers, while Talsky’s Derivative Spectrophotometry: Low and High Order (1994) was mainly directed towards analysts.

As such, a number of well-known experts in analytical chemistry have expressed a concern about the need to publish a new book on DS, summarizing the data which have been accumulated since the formulation of the method. This task is the central focus of Dr Joseph Dubrovkin’s book Derivative Spectroscopy.

The first part of the book is dedicated to DS’s differentiation methods, while it also explores modulation spectroscopy based on optical monochromators and lasers. As such, it can be used as an introduction to the measurement of signal derivatives in various fields of science and techniques. The book’s bibliography briefly describes hundreds of applications of derivative spectroscopic and non-spectroscopic methods in industrial and research laboratories.

In addition, the book represents the first-ever consideration of the derivative technique in different types of spectroscopy, and reviews the derivative recording of analytical signals, excluding optical spectroscopy (particularly derivative chromatography and electrochemistry). The text can serve as a tutorial on DS, due to its numerous graphical illustrations, numerical data, and exercises, while its appendices provide all the additional information the reader will need to understand the main text better.

In addition, the project “Derivative Spectroscopy” provides open-source MATLAB files, while an additional bibliography can be found on the same site: 


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Joseph Dubrovkin gained a degree in Automatics from the Aviation Institute, Russia, in 1968, and doctoral degrees in Technical Sciences and Physics and Mathematics from Leningrad State University, Russia, in 1979 and 1989, respectively. He worked as a Lecturer at the Aviation Institute and the Pharmaceutical Institute, Russia, and Western Galilee College of Bar-Ilan University, Israel, before retiring. In addition, he has developed numerous analytical methods for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries in Russia, and participated in several technology projects in the Israeli industrial sector. His previous publications include the book Mathematical Processing of Spectral Data in Analytical Chemistry: A Guide to Error Analysis (2018).

Derivative Spectroscopy is available now in Hardback at a special 25% promotional discount. Enter the code PROMO25 at the checkout to redeem. The first 30-pages can be accessed free of charge by clicking here.