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I. Introduction of Spectrometric Analyses II. Ultra Violet
Ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy or ultraviolet-visible spectrophotometry (UV-Vis or UV/Vis) refers to absorption spectroscopy in the ultraviolet-visible spectral region. This means it uses light in the visible and adjacent (near-UV and near-infrared (NIR)) ranges. The absorption 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 tofluorescence 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.
UV/Vis spectroscopy is routinely used in the quantitative determination of solutions of transition metal ions and highlyconjugated organic compounds.
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 law:
where A is the measured absorbance, is the intensity of the incident light at a given wavelength, is the transmitted intensity, Lthe pathlength 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 or often .
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).
The Beer-Lambert law has implicit assumptions that must be met experimentally for it to apply. For instance, the chemical makeup and physical environment of the sample can alter its extinction coefficient. The chemical and physical conditions of a test sample therefore must match reference measurements for conclusions to be valid.
A given spectrometer has a spectral bandwidth that characterizes how monochromatic the light is. If this bandwidth is comparable to the width of the absorption features, then the measured extinction coefficient will be altered. In most reference measurements, the instrument bandwidth is kept below the width of the spectral lines. When a new material is being measured, it may be necessary to test and verify if the bandwidth is sufficiently narrow. Reducing the spectral bandwidth will reduce the energy passed to the detector and will, therefore, require a longer measurement time to achieve the same signal to noise ratio.
In liquids, the extinction coefficient usually changes slowly with wavelength. A peak of the absorbance curve (a wavelength where the absorbance reaches a maximum) is where the rate of change in absorbance with wavelength is smallest. Measurements are usually made at a peak to minimize errors produced by errors in wavelength in the instrument, that is errors due to having a different extinction coefficient than assumed.
Another important factor is the purity of the light used. The most important factor affecting this is the stray light level of the monochromator
. The detector used is broadband, it responds to all the light that reaches it. If a significant amount of the light passed through the sample contains wavelengths that have much lower extinction coefficients than the nominal one, the instrument will report an incorrectly low absorbance. Any instrument will reach a point where an increase in sample concentration will not result in an increase in the reported absorbance, because the detector is simply responding to the stray light. In practice the concentration of the sample or the optical path length must be adjusted to place the unknown absorbance within a range that is valid for the instrument. Sometimes an empirical calibration function is developed, using known concentrations of the sample, to allow measurements into the region where the instrument is becoming non-linear.
As a rough guide, an instrument with a single monochromator would typically have a stray light level corresponding to about 3 AU, which would make measurements above about 2 AU problematic. A more complex instrument with a double monochromator would have a stray light level corresponding to about 6 AU, which would therefore allow measuring a much wider absorbance range.
At sufficiently high concentrations, the absorption bands will saturate and show absorption flattening. The absorption peak appears to flatten because close to 100% of the light is already being absorbed. The concentration at which this occurs depends on the particular compound being measured. One test that can be used to test for this effect is to vary the path length of the measurement. In the Beer-Lambert law, varying concentration and path length has an equivalent effect—diluting a solution by a factor of 10 has the same effect as shortening the path length by a factor of 10. If cells of different path lengths are available, testing if this relationship holds true is one way to judge if absorption flattening is occurring.
Solutions that are not homogeneous can show deviations from the Beer-Lambert law because of the phenomenon of absorption flattening. This can happen, for instance, where the absorbing substance is located within suspended particles.
The deviations will be most noticeable under conditions of low concentration and high absorbance. The reference describes a way to correct for this deviation.
The instrument used in ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy is called a UV/Vis spectrophotometer. It measures the intensity of light passing through a sample , and compares it to the intensity of light before it passes through the sample . The ratio is called the transmittance, and is usually expressed as a percentage (%T). The absorbance, , is based on the transmittance:
The basic parts of a spectrophotometer are a light source, a holder for the sample, a diffraction grating or monochromator 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)— or more recently, light emitting diodes (LED) and Xenon arc lamps for the visible wavelengths. The detector is typically a photodiode or a CCD. Photodiodes are used with monochromators, which filter the light so that only light of a single wavelength reaches the detector. Diffraction gratings are used with CCDs, which collects light of different wavelengths on different pixels.
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, but 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 beam 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.
A complete spectrum of the absorption at all wavelengths of interest can often be produced directly by a more sophisticated spectrophotometer. In simpler instruments the absorption is determined one wavelength at a time and then compiled into a spectrum by the operator. A standardized spectrum is formed by removing the concentration dependence and determining the extinction coefficient (ε) as a function of wavelength.
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