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Let’s begin by considering the following scenario for a moment: It’s time to start a new lab job. New methods, new coworkers, new equipment, and, most importantly, new glass cuvettes! But wait, these cells aren’t labeled… Is this a quartz cuvette or a glass material?

We receive calls like this all the time from individuals who are trying to figure out what kind of cuvette material they’re using. The talk usually goes something like this:

Cotslab: Good day, FireflySci.

Researcher: Hello, I’m new to this lab and I believe I have a glass cuvette, but no box or labels on it.

Cotslab: Does the cuvette have any marks on it?

Researcher: These cuvettes appear to be rather ancient, so perhaps it has worn off.

Cotslab: Don’t worry, we’ll sort it out for you!

And that is precisely the topic of this post. So, let’s have a look at how to figure out what material a cuvette is composed of, step by step.

Except for the plastic, all cuvettes now look the same. It’s hard to identify whether a cuvette is made of optical glass, UV quartz, or IR quartz just by looking at it. We mark all of the various ingredients right on the cuvette here at Cotslab. If you buy a glass cuvette from us, the cell will be labeled “G” for optical glass. UV quartz cuvettes will be labeled with the letter “Q,” whereas IR cells will be labeled with the letter “I.”

What to Look for in a Glass Cuvette?

So your cuvette doesn’t have any letters, numbers, or other identifying markings. To determine if the cuvette is quartz or glass, place it in your spectrophotometer and conduct a wavelength scan from 200 to 700 nm.

  • This is a UV quartz cuvette if the transmission starts at 190 nm.
  • This is a glass cuvette if the transmission begins at 340 nm.
  • This is an IR quartz cuvette if transmission begins at 220 nm.

Quartz vs. Glass Cuvettes: What’s the Difference?

This is the most accurate technique to figure out what material a cuvette is comprised of. The following are some further distinctions between quartz and glass cuvettes:

  • Quartz has a wider transmission range than glass, as you can see from the facts above.
  • Thermal Properties – The melting point of quartz is significantly greater than that of glass.
  • Chemical Compatibility — Because quartz has a stronger chemical structure than glass, it can tolerate a wider variety of substances that might melt or harm a glass cuvette.
  • Glass cuvettes particularly shine when it comes to modifications. A pyrex cuvette is very simple to alter and attach to. Quartz cuvettes may be altered, but it is a considerably more involved procedure.

Send us an email or live chat with us if you need help identifying any cuvettes you have on hand, or submit them to our lab for analysis.