Validating Device Performance According to USP Chapter <857> Specifications with SPECORD PLUS UV/Vis Spectrophotometers

Validating Device Performance According to USP Chapter <857> Specifications with SPECORD PLUS UV/Vis Spectrophotometers


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  • Source: Analytik Jena

  • Date: 09 Nov,2021

UV/Vis spectroscopy is a widely used analytical technique in laboratories of the pharmaceutical industry. Quality control and assurance analysis of pharmaceutical products are routinely performed under stringent quality guidelines established by international entities such as the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), thus ensuring fulfillment of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

Periodical validation of spectrometer performance within the operational range is an essential part to ensure the reproducibility and reliability of the obtained results. The USP chapter <857> (43rd edition) describes performance qualification parameters for a UV/Vis spectrophotometer.

Analytik Jena’s SPECORD PLUS spectrophotometer series is fully compliant both in the device and software (Aspect UV) performance.

USP <857> Validation

Validation according to USP includes the following parameters:

1.Control of wavelengths and absorbance

2.NEW: Photometric response (linearity)

3.Limit of stray light

4.Control of resolution

USP <857> involves validation of the spectrometer in the operating range, i.e. covering the range in which routine or identity measurements are deployed. In order to assure compliance of the complete measuring range, both in the wavelength and in the absorbance, a wide range of possible validation methods, including certified reference materials (CRMs) and the corresponding target parameters and tolerance range(s) are unambiguously indicated. It is the responsibility of the user to select the suitable CRMs and methods to the required operating range. In addition to the general standards, alternative CRMs upon warranted certification are also tolerated by the USP <857>.

This allows validation of less common operational ranges (e.g., absorbance above the specified values).

Control of wavelengths

This qualification procedure ensures that the accuracy of wavelengths over the intended operational range is within the USP <857> specifications. Wavelength accuracy and precision have to be validated within the spectrometer’s operational range, therefore the USP provides a plethora of CRMs to suit user specifications (see Table 1 below).

Holmium perchlorate200–400 nm ± 1 nm

400–780 nm ± 2 nm

≤ 0.5 nm
Cerium oxide solutions200–400 nm ± 1 nm≤ 0.5 nm
Didymium solutions or glasses400–900 nm ± 2 nm≤ 0.5 nm
Holmium oxide glass filter200–400 nm ± 1 nm

400–780 nm ± 2 nm

≤ 0.5 nm
D2 emission lines486.0 and 656.1 nm ± 2 nm≤ 0.5 nm

Table 1: Certified reference material for the control of wavelength accuracy and precision according to USP <857>

Control of absorbance and photometric linearity

To ensure absorbance (or transmittance) accuracy, precision, and linearity of a given system within acceptable limits, the USP <857> specifies a clear procedure for this purpose (see Table 2). Different concentration ranges of CRMs are required to verify those parameters. K2Cr2O7 solution (from 20 mg/L to 200 mg/L), neutral density glass filters, as specified by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are the accepted CRMs for this purpose. Photometric linearity, namely the range in which the absorbance-to-concentration correlation behaves linear, is validated by probing at least three concentration ranges in the intended operational range.

Table 2: Certified reference material for the control of absorbance and photometric linearity according to USP <857>

K2Cr2O7 solution

(235; 257; 313; 350 nm)

≤ 1 A: ± 0.010 A

> 1 A: ± 1% A

≤ 1 A: ≤ ± 0.005 A

> 1 A: ≤ ± 0.5% A

Neutral density glass filters (440; 465; 546,1;

590 and 635 nm)

≤ 1 A: ± 0.008 A

> 1 A: ± 0.8% A

≤ 1 A: ≤ ± 0.005 Abs

> 1 A: ≤ ± 0.5% A

 Limit of stray light

Stray light might interfere with qualitative and especially quantitative UV/Vis measurements. Here, the USP

<857> stray light validation relies on cut-off filters, namely filters with a sharply defined spectrum. These block any light from passing through below a certain wavelength. Ideally, filters with a cut-off wavelength close to the required wavelengths are recommended (see Table 3).

The USP <857> stipulates two procedures for stray light determination. In the 10 mm vs. 5 mm method, a cell with 5 mm path length is first measured as a reference and then a 10 mm cell as a sample (both filled with the filter solution).

The resulting (absorbance) peak is used to determine the position and height of the maximum absorbance and the associated stray light value Sλ.

In the second method 10 mm vs. 10 mm H2O, the filter solution is measured against water as reference (both in a 10 mm cell). The measured absorbance at the certified wavelength (at the edge of an absorbance peak) must be greater than or equal to 2 A.

Table 3: Certified reference material for the control of stray light according to USP <857>

12 g/L KCl (190 nm–210 mm)Method A: 10 mm versus 5 mm

  Requirement: A ≥ 0.7 A      

10 g/L NaI (210 nm–280 nm)
Acetone (250 nm–350 nm)Method B: 10 mm versus 10 mm
  50 g/L NaNO2 (300 nm–420 nm)     Requirement: A max ≥ 2.0 A   


Spectral resolution (or plainly resolution) is a measure to resolve two nearby standing peaks. In case of monochromator systems, the resolution is intimately related to the available spectral slit (or bandwidth). The USP <857> specifies the use of a 0.020% solution of toluene in hexane against the latter as reference (hexane). Herein, the absorption maximum and minimum (respectively at approximately 269 and 266 nm) are measured. Subsequently the resolving capacity is determined from the A269/A266 ratio.

The USP <857> states that a slit of 2 nm or smaller is necessary for most quantitative applications (monochromator system). Analytik Jena’s double beam spectrophotometer series SPECORD PLUS provides a clear solution for USP compliance. Herein the SPECORD 210 and 250 PLUS (0.5, 1, or 2 nm slit), as well as the SPECORD 50 and 200 PLUS devices (1.4 nm) meet the established USP requirements.

ASpect UV Software

Figure 1: ASpect UV Validation Support Software Module acc. to USP <857>

In addition to the suitable spectrometer, Analytik Jena provides solutions for all USP <857> software compliance requirements with the ASpect UV software. It provides powerful tools for flexible and compliant analysis in highly regulated environments as well as user-friendly spectrometer operation. With the comprehensive user management (FDA 21 CFR Part 11 compliant) and AJ file protect, data is protected against intentional and unintentional manipulation, thus guaranteeing data integrity (see Figure 1 for further details).

Standard measurements according to USP <857>

Table 4: Comparison of standard measurements of former versions up to USP 41 and the new versions from USP 42

Customer Operation RangeUp to version USP 41From version USP 42
Wavelength range [nm]279 nm to 864 nm279 nm to 875 nm

Photometry range [Abs]

UV range from 0.3 to 0.9 Abs VIS range 1.0 AbsUV range from 0.1 to 1.45 Abs VIS range 0.25 to 1.0 Abs
Slit width [nm]

(1 slit width per validation)

Spectrophotometer with variable slit width, selectable between 0.5; 1 or 2 nm and with fixed slit device at 1.4 nm



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