An Effective and Economical Photometer for Classroom Demonstrations and Laboratory Use


  • Anthony E. Butterfield University of Utah
  • Colin C. Young University of Utah


We present a simple, effective, and inexpensive spectrophotometer design that may be used in a stand-alone teaching module, and to enhance various unit operations experiments. The spectrophotometers described performed as well as a commercial option at estimating cell concentration in a bioreactor and tracking a first-order reaction. Such devices have been found to be ideal for hands-on classroom demonstrations of reaction kinetics, for use in our unit operations lab, and as tools for community outreach.

Author Biographies

Anthony E. Butterfield, University of Utah

is an assistant professor (lecturing) in the Chemical Engineering Department of the University of Utah. He received his B. S. and Ph.D. from the University of Utah and his M.S. from the University of California, San Diego. His teaching responsibilities include the senior unit operations laboratory and development of a freshman design laboratory. His research interests focus on undergraduate education, targeted drug delivery, photobioreactor design, and instrumentation.

Colin C. Young, University of Utah

is a senior in chemical engineering at the University of Utah. He is team leader of his department's engineering outreach program and is planning to enter graduate school to pursue his Ph.D. in chemical engineering. His research interests include nanotechnology and its application in biological systems, sensor technologies, and engineering education.