TracQ Basic main application window.
Many common spectroscopic measurements require coordinated operation of a detection instrument and light source, as well as data acquisition and mathematical operations. Not all users have the time to program custom routines to fit their applications, so TracQ Basic provides the solution: combining customizable instrument control, data acquisition and processing in a user-friendly software package. TracQ Basic is compatible with Oriel monochromators and many common detection instruments.
TracQ Basic integrates Oriel monochromators and spectrographs with various detection instruments. Software prompts guide users through the measurement process. Instruments are controlled and scan parameters are set up through simple, intuitive dialog boxes. The front panel of the software allows users to monitor the instrument status, present wavelength, signal reading and the selected wavelength units.Oriels TracQ Basic software is an instrument control package that includes data acquisition and processing. TracQ Basic allows users to acquire spectroscopic measurement data quickly and easily, without requiring any programming knowledge. TracQ Basic is true radiometry software, which enables users to acquire basic signal vs. wavelength measurements or use the built-in algorithms for spectroscopic measurements. Data acquisition and processing occur in real time.TracQ Basic includes many features, such as:
TracQ Basic works with compatible detection systems and Oriel monochromators/spectrographs via their USB, RS232 or IEEE-488 (GPIB) interfaces to automate the data acquisition process. The software commands switch gratings, filters and output ports at specified wavelengths or adjust motorized slit widths at each port, for instruments equipped with these features. Various detection instrument parameters, such as filtering, measurement mode, autorange, time constant and more are also controlled by TracQ Basic. The following is a list of measurements performed by TracQ Basic and some typical applications:
TracQ Basic is provided on a USB memory stick. It includes the Newport Power Meter application for use with detection instrument models 19xx/29xx. Also included are the user manual, quick start guide, USB instrument drivers and the National Instruments Measurement and Automation Explorer (NI Max) application.The appropriate communication ports for the instruments must be available on the computer. For GPIB communication, a GPIB card must be installed in the computer or a GPIB/USB converter cable utilized. When using GPIB or RS232 instruments on a computer with only USB ports, TracQ Basic supports USB converter cables that are compatible with National Instruments software.
Users have the ability to select a specific grating and filter, or use the automatic selection tables when performing a scan. All that is required is to enter the wavelength(s) at which the grating or filter is changed. For monochromators and spectrographs featuring dual output ports, the port is selected by a motorized mirror built into the instrument. Two output ports allow continuous scanning over a broad wavelength range without needing to break down the setup to swap detectors. This mirror is controlled through TracQ Basic. The user can enter the wavelength at which the output port is switched.
Spectral responsivity data for a calibrated detector may be loaded into TracQ Basic. It must be in a text tab delimited file, with the left column listing the wavelengths in nanometers and the right column listing the responsivities in amps per watt.Amplified detectors provide a voltage output. Using the spectral responsivity data allows this type of detector to take optical power measurements. This is very useful when utilizing a lock-in digital amplifier. The LIDA-SRS-KIT can accept both current and voltage signals, but operates best with a voltage input. The legacy Merlin lock-in digital amplifiers accept only a voltage signal. The spectral responsivity data is required to make power measurements using a lock-in digital amplifier.
An advantage of using motorized slits is that in addition to setting the slit widths individually, the software can be configured to an automatic bandpass setting. TracQ Basic adjusts the slit widths to maintain the chosen bandpass as scans are performed using multiple gratings and either output port. The mathematics involved in determining the slit width takes into account the input and output focal lengths of the instruments design, as well as the angle of the grating at the specified wavelength.
Background light in the environment or light leakage in a system may result in data inaccuracy. For example, a dark box must be constructed to perform quantum efficiency measurements on a dye-sensitized solar cell. If the dark box is not completely light tight, the light leakage will introduce an offset into the measurements. In this situation, measurements should be taken of only the background light and saved. When background subtraction is enabled, these background measurements are subtracted from the reference or data scan.Please note that in the case of very high background light levels, the detector will saturate. This may happen with unchopped light, or even with a lock-in digital amplifier, where chopped light must be utilized. Any unchopped background light, if intense enough, will essentially overwhelm the detectors sensor and negatively affect its ability to take readings. In cases such as this, enabling background subtraction will not resolve the situation. Excessively high background light levels must be eliminated by either using a closed optical path or making changes to the testing environment.
Time interval scans can be used to measure light source stability and signal modulation readings. The time interval scan does not support background subtraction. In the case where a chopped signal is being detected, the chopper is used to separate the signal from the background radiation. When using the Newport 19xx/29xx power meter, an offset may be entered under the parameters setup for the detection instrument. The offset is set by clicking the Set Zero icon.
Oriels amplified detectors include gain adjustment switches on their housings. For those using unamplified detectors, the model 70710 Preamplifier is available. TracQ Basic allows the user to enter the gain selections into the software. This is particularly useful during sensor characterization, when the calibrated reference detector may have different gain requirements than the device under test.
TracQ Basic supports nanometers (nm) and micrometers (um). Users should choose the wavelength units prior to taking any data. The units selected for spectroscopic data acquisition must be the same for all reference and background scans.
An electronic shutter is integrated into the housings of Oriels motorized monochromators and spectrographs. The shutter is mounted inside the housing at the input port. TracQ Basic allows the user to control the shutter.The shutter is used to close the light path when light is not required. This allows the light source to remain on - and therefore remain warmed up - so that it continues to provide stable performance. Additionally, restarting a lamp results in wear of the filament (with quartz tungsten halogen lamps) or wear of the anode/cathode (with arc lamps). Therefore, when the light is not needed during short periods, closing the shutter is suggested.
TracQ Basic supports multiple communication methods. Each one has advantages. Refer to the user manual for a list of instruments supported and their compatible communication methods.
A USB connection does not require a GPIB card, serial port or USB converter cable. USB ports are the most common interface found on today's computer. They USB driver included with TracQ Basic is compatible with Windows 7, 32-bit and 64-bit systems.An RS232 connection simplifies setup, as no driver is used. This makes the choice of using RS232 preferred by some programmers, for simplicity. An RS232 instrument can be used with TracQ Basic with third-party RS232/USB converter cables. The cable used must be LabVIEW compatible.A GPIB (IEEE-488.2) cable also simplifies setup, because it requires no driver. It does require either a GPIB card or GPIB/USB converter cable which must be LabVIEW compatible. GPIB is favored by some users because the connectors can be stacked, with different instruments assigned individual addresses.