Spectrophotometry: Learn the Beer-Lambert law with absorbance experiments

Build your own spectrophotometer to measure the absorbance of a reaction product on Mars!

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  • Description
  • Features

Build your spectrophotometer 

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

Learn by exploring! Try out different configurations and see how they impact the lightpath used to measure a sample. The virtual lab lets you try out your ideas without worrying about expensive mistakes. 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.

Operate a spectrophotometer and collect your own data

Once you’ve successfully built your instrument, it’s time to try it out! To get started, you’ll need to interpret a little data and program the detection settings to the most optimal wavelength for your experiments. Once you’re ready, set the baseline and you’re off.

Try out different concentrations of reactant and catalyst to explore how the absorbance measured by the instrument is related to reaction rate. The simulation uses a simulated reaction kinetics model and will show your data plotted in real-time.

Build confidence in applying Beer-Lambert Law to your data

Throughout the simulation, the different conceptual elements of Beer-Lambert law are contextualized as the spectrophotometer’s function is explored. By linking abstract concepts like extinction coefficients to the physical attributes represented by each, the links between theory and practice become clear. Will you be able to rise to the final challenge, identify the important parameters, and convert your absorbance data for interpretation?

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Build your own spectrophotometer to measure the absorbance of a reaction product on Mars!

Techniques in lab
Learning objectives

At the end of this simulation, you will be able to...

  • Summarize how a spectrophotometer is used to measure absorbance data
  • Link the major components of a spectrophotometer to their functions within the instrument
  • Choose a useful wavelength for measuring a compound of interest using absorbance spectrum data
  • Suggest a protocol for measuring the absorbance of a given substance using a spectrophotometer
  • Apply the Beer-Lambert equation to absorbance data to determine substance concentration
Simulation features

Length: 25
Accessibility mode: Not available
Languages: English (United States)


Support for spectrophotometer introductions


Generic support for spectrophotometer introductions


Generic support for spectrophotometer introductions