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Spectacular spectroscopy

Year 12 and 13 A Level Chemistry students took light to the next level, taking part in the University of Sheffield’s Spectroscopy workshop in early November to supplement their own chemistry work.

Although spectroscopy originated as splitting white light with a prism to form a rainbow, it is known as the study of the interaction between matter and electromagnetic radiation. Analysis using spectroscopy has been key in theories such as the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.

The girls attended the half-day workshop to understand the complex techniques involved in spectroscopy better. The chemists had fun deducing given compounds using the latest cutting edge technology and skills, working with the specialists and learning to use Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Mass spectrometry and Infrared spectroscopy.

Agatha said, “Each group was given the results of their compounds from being in each of the machines, presented in graphs, enabling us to narrow down what are compound was. It was really interesting to look at all the machines and how they work as well as how they're used in everyday life. For example, when a hospital needs to deduce what solid compound a patient may have taken (e.g. drugs), these machines can be used to determine what it is.

“After collaborating with the teachers and discussing within the group, by the end of the sessions each group knew what their compound was. In my group (B); we found that ours was 4-bromobenzoic acid. It was very interesting to see these machines in action and how scientists can work out various compounds using these intricate techniques.”

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