The development and application of spectroscopy has had an enormous
influence on the world in which we live. Spectroscopy has brought
us fundamental understanding of the microscopic worlds of atoms
and the macroscopic world of stars. It has also contributed to identifying
and quantifying the materials that we live in. For example, how
much glucose we have in our blood is determined with absorption
spectroscopy, polymers can be easily separated for recycling by
exampling their vibrational spectrum.
The history of spectroscopy began
in the 17th century with Sir Isaac Newton's discovery of the basic
nature of light and color evolution of the field of spectroscopy.
We invite you to read a perspective on the history of spectroscopy
from its founding through the development of quantum mechanics and
finally its golden age during the last half of the 20th century.
Since its inception in 1931, the George
R. Harrison Spectroscopy Laboratory at MIT has been a pioneer
in spectroscopic research. The mission
of the Laboratory has continually evolved to take on new challenges
while advancing scientific understanding. Originally a world-recognized
center for classical atomic spectroscopy under the direction of
George R. Harrison and later a leader
in infrared and Raman spectroscopic techniques under the direction
of Richard C. Lord, the Laboratory is
continually pursuing new frontiers in spectroscopy. Under the direction
of Michael S. Feld, the use of lasers
and laser-based techniques and their application to medicine and
biology became the forefront of research.