Spectrophotometers: Building and exploring the instrument Virtual Lab

Build your own spectrophotometer to discover how you can measure substances with light

  • High School
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About This Simulation

This targeted mini-simulation is part of the larger “Spectrophotometry: Learn the Beer-Lambert law with absorbance experiments.”

The spectrophotometer is an unsung hero of many important discoveries in chemistry, life sciences, and beyond. In this simulation, you’ll explore the mechanics at the heart of the technique.

Build your spectrophotometer

Go under the hood of the spectrophotometer and solve the puzzle of how its components fit together. Can you figure out which pieces do what, and how they all work together in the finished instrument?

Over four brief missions, you’ll cover the core concepts of photometric investigation (including why different substances require different instrument settings), the relationship between concentration and absorbance, and how light can be harnessed as a powerful diagnostic tool for scientific exploration.

Explore the instrument without worrying about mistakes!

During the spectrophotometer building mission, you can try out different configurations and see how they impact the lightpath used to measure a sample -- all without worrying about expensive mistakes. Try out different ideas, and learn as you go! The complexity of the spectrophotometer’s components and function increases over four levels of interaction, guiding you from photometric first principles to data interpretation for protocol optimization.

Interpret absorbance spectra to find your experiment’s optimal settings

Once your instrument is up and running, you’ll need to determine the optimal settings for running an experiment. Using absorbance spectra of some compounds of interest, you’ll interpret the data and figure out how to best measure a substance of interest using specific wavelengths of light. Can you master the technique and unlock the full potential of spectrophotometry?


Spectrophotometry: Learn the Beer-Lambert law with absorbance experiments

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