Spectroscopy

Intermediate—Spring

Every time chemists conduct a reaction or isolate a compound, their first task is to identify the molecular structure of what has been made or isolated. To help them accomplish this, chemists have a powerful array of modern instrumental techniques that are used to quickly and accurately determine the structures of compounds. One of the most challenging (and entertaining!) parts of chemistry is to use the information obtained from these techniques to assign structures to unknown compounds (a bit like Sherlock Holmes using clues to solve a murder mystery). In this course, we focus on the three most widely used techniques: mass spectrometry, infrared spectroscopy, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. All of these techniques provide valuable information about the structures of molecules and are all used on a day-to-day basis by most chemists. Once we have a sound understanding of each of these techniques, we will become chemical detectives and use the information that the techniques provide to solve chemical puzzles. The laboratory section of the course will give us the opportunity to make some completely new chemical compounds, and we will then use our knowledge of spectroscopic techniques to elucidate their identities and molecular structures. Prerequisite: One semester of General Chemistry or General Physics

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