Axetris infrared source EMIRS200 for hemp analysis

Success Stories16 Aug 2023

The commercial use of hemp is becoming increasingly significant. However, production and licensing are highly regulated in various markets. In this blog post, you will learn how Axetris EMIRS200 infrared sources ensure quality in hemp analysis.

Author: Melanie Wahlers, Technical Marketing Manager, Axetris Switzerland

Hemp products in everyday life

Not so long ago, most of us only knew hemp as an illegal substance. But this plant’s active ingredients are versatile and are now used in many over-the-counter products. There are hemp-based cosmetics and foods, such as hemp seeds, hemp oils and hemp protein powder. In addition, medicinal cannabis is also used in pain therapy. Freely available CBD oil is the milder variant, which is said to have an anxiety-relieving and relaxing effect.

Testing and approval of hemp products

The two essential, active ingredients of the hemp plant are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The THC content determines whether hemp is approved as a crop or considered a narcotic. This limit is usually less than 1%, but varies from country to country. The THC content of the hemp plant is influenced by the type of cultivation and extraction. It is therefore important for growers to know the THC content of their plants, as this determines the intended use. Additionally, there are over 80 different cannabinoids, some with very different properties and effects.


There are many professional hemp analysis providers. These are mostly external laboratories that carry out the analysis as contract work. Because the samples sent in usually have to be prepared in advance, analysis often becomes costly and time-consuming. However, these costly analyses are unavoidable for the official approval of hemp products. There are more effective methods for producers, processors and sellers to continuously check their hemp product for quality.

Mobile hemp analysis for better quality control

In 2016, the California-based technology start-up Big Sur Scientific developed the BSS2000/3000 analyzer, which enables hemp analysis outside of professional laboratories. Dr. Brian C. Smith, CEO and Chief Technical Officer of Big Sur Scientific, wants to play his part in better standardization and quality control of hemp products. Because the simpler and less expensive the analysis, the more quality control can be performed. This, in turn, benefits the consumers.


The measurements with the BSS2000/3000 analyzer are easy to perform and deliver results within two minutes. The THC content is determined with an accuracy of up to 0.04%. Only a few milligrams of sample material are needed to perform a test. These advantages mean it’s worth testing several plants to obtain a reliable average value for a complete batch.

Non-contact analysis with infrared light

Big Sur Scientific’s BSS2000/3000 analyzers are based on the Attenuated Total Reflection (ATR) method. The ATR method is a spectroscopic technique that uses infrared light. It is used for the analysis of solids or liquids. ATR is based on the principle of total internal reflection. According to this principle, light is totally reflected when passing from a medium with a higher refractive index to a medium with a lower refractive index at a certain angle of incidence.

During sample analysis, the infrared light enters the medium being tested via several reflections in the ATR crystal. The components of the medium then partially absorb the infrared light. Depending on which component it is, a certain wavelength is absorbed. And the more of this component there is, the more light it absorbs. This technique allows both qualitative and quantitative hemp analyses to be performed. To ensure the necessary selectivity for a complex analysis of the various components of a sample, a number of wavelength selection techniques are used. These eliminate irrelevant wavelengths to avoid interference.

Axetris infrared sources EMIRS200 are the perfect match

The EMIRS200 infrared sources from Axetris are used in Big Sur Scientific’s BSS2000/3000 analyzers because their broadband emission in the mid-IR spectrum is perfect for the application. In particular, the high emissivity in the range above 8-10 µm is very helpful to accurately determine the different hemp components.

Promising initial food analysis trials

Meanwhile, Big Sur Scientific has used its analyzer for initial food analysis trials. The company has already achieved initial positive results in the analysis of olive oil, hops, milk and ground beef. Thanks to the broadband emission performance of the Axetris EMIRS200 infrared sources, applications can be expanded as desired. We wish Dr. Brian C. Smith every success in opening up other interesting applications and thank him for the positive cooperation.

Want to learn more about Big Sur Scientific?

Official site of Big Sur Scientific