An Analytical Instrument can be any type of equipment, apparatus or device as is specifically designed, constructed and often, through trial and error, ingeniously refined to apply utmost efficiency in the utilization of well proven physical principle, relationship or technology to facilitate or enable the pursuit, acquisition, transduction and storage of repeatable, verifiable data, usually consisting of sets numerical measurements made upon otherwise unknown, unproven quantities, properties, phenomena, materials, forces or etc., preferably as those characterized over time by an increasing degree of accuracy and precision and, typically, those initially derived as isolated or dependent variable results from, or empirical observations made during, the course of such experimental procedures as are firmly based upon the scientific method and long accepted tenants of experimental design.
Scientific instruments are part of laboratory equipment, but are considered more sophisticated and more specialized than other measuring instruments as scales, meter sticks, chronometers,thermometers or even power or waveform generators. They are increasingly based upon the integration of computers to improve and simplify control, enhance and extend instrumental functions, conditions, parameter adjustments and data sampling, collection, resolution, analysis (both during and post-process), storage and retrieval.
Individual instruments can also be connected as a local area network (LAN) and can be further integrated as part of a laboratory information management system (LIMS), that in addition to having Internet access to databases of such physical properties as compound spectra libraries through the World Wide Web for results comparisons and advanced data analysis as well as the obvious usefulness of now ubiquitous email for rapid exchange of informational text and images, consultation and peer review. Recently, the development has utilized open source principles borrowed from the software industry to rapidly improve low-cost open-source hardware for scientific measurements