Date: July 29, 2014
A spectrophotometer is employed to measure the amount of light that a sample absorbs. The instrument operates by passing a beam
of light through a sample and measuring the intensity of light reaching a detector. The beam of light consists of a stream of photons. When a photon encounters an analyte molecule (the analyte is the molecule being studied), there is a chance the analyte will absorb the photon. This absorption reduces the number of photons in the beam of light, thereby
reducing the intensity of the light beam.
The light source is set to emit 10 photons per second. Some of the photons are absorbed (removed) as the beam of light passes through the cell containing the sample solution. The intensity of the light reaching the detector is less than the intensity emitted by the light source.
Ultraviolet – visible spectros copy or ultrav iolet- visible spectrophotometry (UV-Vis or UV/Vis) refers to absorption spectroscopy or reflectance spectroscopy in the ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy or reflectance spectroscopy in the ultraviolet-visible UV and near-infrared (NIR)) ranges. The absorption or reflectance in the visible range directly affects the perceived color of the chemicals involved. In this region of the electromagnetic spectrum, molecules undergo electronic transitions. This technique is complementary to fluorescence spectroscopy, in that fluorescence deals with transitions from the excited state to the ground state, while absorption measures transitions from the ground state to the excited state.
Principle of ultraviolet-visible absorption
Molecules containing π-electrons or non-bonding electrons (n-electrons) can absorb the energy in the form of ultraviolet or visible light to excite these electrons to higher anti-bonding molecular orbitals. The more easily excited the electrons, the longer the wavelength of light it can absorb.
UV/Vis spectroscopy is routinely used in analytical chemistry for the quantitative determination of different analytes, such as transition metal ions, highly conjugated organic compounds, and biological macromolecules. Spectroscopic analysis is commonly carried out in solutions but solids and gases may also be studied.
Solutions of transition metal ions can be colored (i.e., absorb visible light) because d electrons within the metal atoms can be excited from one electronic state to another. The colour of metal ion solutions is strongly affected by the presence of other species, such as certain anions or ligands. For instance, the colour of a dilute solution of copper sulfate is a very light blue; adding ammonia intensifies the colour and changes the wavelength of maximum absorption .Organic compounds, especially those with a high degree of conjugation, also absorb light in the UV or visible regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. The solvents for these determinations are often water for water-soluble compounds, or ethanol for organic-soluble compounds. (Organic solvents may have significant UV absorption; not all solvents are suitable for use in UV spectroscopy. Ethanol absorbs very weakly at most wavelengths.) Solvent polarity and pH can affect the absorption
spectrum of an organic compound. Tyrosine, for example, increases in absorption maxima and molar extinction coefficient when pH increases from 6 to 13 or when solvent polarity decreases.While charge transfer complexes also give rise to colours, the colours are often too intense to be used for quantitative measurement.
Beer-Lambert law :
The Beer-Lambert law states that the absorbance of a solution is directly proportional to the concentration of the absorbing species in the solution and the path length. Thus, for a fixed path length, UV/Vis spectroscopy can be used to determine the concentration of the absorber in a solution. It is necessary to know how quickly the absorbance changes with concentration. This can be taken from references (tables of molar extinction coefficients), or more accurately, determined
from a calibration curve.
A UV/Vis spectrophotometer may be used as a detector for HPLC. The presence of an analyte gives a response assumed to be proportional to the concentration. For accurate results, the instrument’s response to the analyte in the unknown should be compared with the response to a standard; this is very similar to the use of calibration curves. The response (e.g., peak height) for a particular concentration is known as the response factor.The wavelengths of absorption peaks can be correlated with the types of bonds in a given molecule and are valuable in determining the functional groups within a molecule. The Woodward-Fieser rules, for instance, are a set of empirical observations used to predict λmax, the wavelength of the most intense UV/Vis absorption, for conjugated organic compounds such as dienes and ketones. The spectrum alone is not, however, a specific test for any given sample. The nature of the solvent, the pH of the solution, temperature, high electrolyte concentrations, and the presence of interfering substances can influence the absorption spectrum. Experimental variations such as the slit width (effective bandwidth) of the spectrophotometer will also alter the spectrum. To apply UV/Vis spectroscopy to analysis, these variables must be controlled or accounted for in order to identify the substances present. The method is most often used in a quantitative way to determine concentrations of an absorbing species in solution, using the Beer-Lambert equation;
where A is the measured absorbance, in Absorbance Units (AU), Io is the intensity of the incident light at a given wavelength, I is the transmitted intensity, L the path length through the sample, and c the concentration of the absorbing species. For each species and wavelength, ε is a constant known as the molar absorptivity or extinction coefficient. This constant is a fundamental molecular property in a given solvent, at a particular temperature and pressure, and has units of 1/M * cm or often AU/M * cm.
The absorbance and extinction ε are sometimes defined in terms of the natural logarithm instead of the base-10 logarithm.
The Beer-Lambert Law is useful for characterizing many compounds but does not hold as a universal relationship for the concentration and absorption of all substances. A 2nd order polynomial relationship between absorption and concentration is sometimes encountered for very
large, complex molecules such as organic dyes (Xylenol Orange or Neutral Red, for example) Ultraviolet-visible spectrophotometer.
The instrument used in ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy is called a UV/Vis spectrophotometer. It measures the intensity of light passing through a sample (I), and compares it to the intensity of light before it passes through the sample (Io). The ratio I/Io is called the transmittance, and is usually expressed as a percentage (%T). The absorbance,A , is based on the transmittance:
A = -log (%T/100)
The UV-visible spectrophotometer can also be configured to measure reflectance. In this case, the spectrophotometer measures the intensity of light reflected from a sample (I), and compares it to the intensity of light reflected from a reference material (Io) (such as a white tile). The ratio I/Io is called the reflectance, and is usually expressed as a percentage (%R).
The basic parts of a spectrophotometer are a light source, a holder for the sample, a diffraction grating in a monochromator or a prism to separate the different wavelengths of light, and a detector.
The radiation source is often a Tungsten filament (300-2500 nm), a deuterium arc lamp, which is continuous over the ultraviolet region (190-400 nm), Xenon arc lamp, which is continuous from 160-2,000 nm; or more recently, light emitting diodes (LED) for the visible wavelengths. The detector is typically a photomultiplier tube, a photodiode, a photodiode array or a charge-coupled device (CCD). Single photodiode detectors and photomultiplier tubes are used with scanning monochromators, which filter the light so that only light of a single wavelength reaches the detector at one time. The scanning monochromator moves the diffraction grating to “step-through” each wavelength so that its intensity may be measured as a function of wavelength. Fixed monochromators are used with CCDs and photodiode arrays. As both of these devices consist of many detectors grouped into one or two dimensional arrays, they are able to collect light of different wavelengths on different pixels or groups of pixels simultaneously.
A spectrophotometer can be either single beam or double beam. In a single beam instrument (such as the Spectronic 20), all of the light passes through the sample cell. must be measured by removing the sample. This was the earliest design and is still in common use in both teaching and industrial labs. In a double-beam instrument, the light is split into two beams before it reaches the sample. One bbeam is used as the reference; the other beam passes through the sample. The reference beam intensity is taken as 100% Transmission (or 0 Absorbance), and the measurement displayed is the ratio of the two beam intensities. Some double-beam instruments have two detectors (photodiodes), and the sample and reference beam are measured at the same time. In other instruments, the two beams pass through a beam chopper, which blocks one beam at a time. The detector alternates between measuring the sample beam and the reference beam in synchronism with the chopper. There may also be one or more dark intervals in the chopper cycle. In this case, the measured beam intensities may be corrected by subtracting the intensity measured in the dark interval before the ratio is taken. Samples for UV/Vis spectrophotometry are most often liquids, although the absorbance of gases and even of solids can also be measured. Samples are typically placed in a transparent cell, known as a cuvette. Cuvettes are typically rectangular in shape, commonly with an internal width of 1 cm. (This width becomes the path length, , in the Beer-Lambert law.) Test tubes can also be used as cuvettes in some instruments. The type of sample container used must allow radiation to pass over
the spectral region of interest. The most widely applicable cuvettes are made of high quality fused silica or quartz glass because these are transparent throughout the UV, visible and near infrared regions. Glass and plastic cuvettes are also common, although glass and most plastics absorb in the UV, which limits their usefulness to visible wavelengths.[
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