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Molecular Spectroscopy

Molecular spectroscopy is one of several spectroscopic technologies used in commercial, government, research and academic labs to determine the composition of sample materials or objects.

Molecular Spectroscopy | Avantor

Avantor® offers a wide range of spectroscopes, equipment, products and supplies that analysts in your laboratory need every day to help them to identify and measure the composition of samples or objects at the molecular level.

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Featured Suppliers and Products


Nanalysis NMReady-60 benchtop systems are compact 60MHz, 1.4 T, all-in-one spectrometers.


A complete range of photometers, from easy VIS to high-end UV/VIS, suitable for a wide range of applications including general research, pharmaceutical, biochemical and clinical laboratory use and QC



A complete range of photometers from well-known brands, from easy VIS to high-end UV/VIS, suitable for a wide range of applications


A choice of models for rapid and reliable analysis of DNA, RNA, oligonucleotides, proteins and bacterial cell density/turbidity.


Fluorescence spectrophotometers are available at VWR for a variety of research applications.


Flame photometers are designed for the determination of sodium, potassium and more.


For high-throughput applications, make your choice from our range of absorbance and multimode readers.

What is Molecular Spectroscopy?

Molecular spectrophotometry is a scientific technique used to study the interaction of molecules with electromagnetic radiation, specifically in the ultraviolet (UV) and visible (VIS) regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. It is a widely used analytical method in various fields, including chemistry, biochemistry, physics, and environmental science. The basic principle behind molecular spectrophotometry is that molecules can absorb specific wavelengths of light due to their electronic structure. When a sample containing molecules is exposed to light of a certain wavelength, some of the light is absorbed by the molecules. The amount of absorption depends on the concentration of the absorbing molecules and the length of the light path through the sample.

The instrument used to perform molecular spectrophotometry is called a spectrophotometer. It consists of a light source that emits a broad range of wavelengths, a monochromator to select a specific wavelength, a sample holder where the sample is placed, and a detector to measure the intensity of light that passes through the sample. The data obtained from the spectrophotometer is typically represented as a spectrum, which shows the absorption of light as a function of wavelength. Molecular spectrophotometry is widely used for various applications, such as:

Quantitative analysis: Determining the concentration of a specific compound in a solution by measuring its absorption at a known wavelength and comparing it to a calibration curve.

Qualitative analysis: Identifying the presence of certain compounds based on their characteristic absorption spectra.

Enzyme kinetics: Studying the reaction rates of enzymes by monitoring changes in absorbance as the reaction progresses.

DNA and protein analysis: Determining the concentration and purity of nucleic acids and proteins based on their absorbance at specific wavelengths.

Environmental monitoring: Analyzing water and air samples for pollutants and contaminants.

Pharmaceutical analysis: Assaying the content of active ingredients in pharmaceutical formulations.

Overall, molecular spectrophotometry is a versatile and powerful analytical tool that provides valuable information about the composition and properties of molecules in a sample.

NMR Spectrometer: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, on the other hand, exploits the behavior of certain atomic nuclei (typically hydrogen, carbon, and other nuclei with a magnetic moment) in the presence of a strong magnetic field and radiofrequency (RF) radiation. NMR provides valuable information about the local environment and molecular structure of compounds. It is particularly powerful for studying the arrangement of atoms in organic molecules and determining molecular conformation and dynamics.

While both UV-Vis spectrophotometry and NMR spectroscopy are considered molecular spectrophotometric techniques, they are applied in different contexts and provide complementary information about the properties of molecules. UV-Vis spectrophotometers are commonly found in many laboratories and are relatively easy to use for routine analysis, while NMR spectrometers require specialized equipment, advanced training, and are mainly used for more in-depth structural analysis of organic molecules.

What are the different types of molecular spectrophotometers?

There are several types of molecular spectrophotometers, each designed to measure different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum and provide specific types of information about molecules.

The main types of molecular spectrophotometers include:

UV-Vis Spectrophotometer: This is the most common type of molecular spectrophotometer and measures the absorption of ultraviolet (UV) and visible (Vis) light by molecules. It is widely used for quantitative and qualitative analysis of compounds, as well as for determining the concentration of substances in a sample.

Infrared (IR) Spectrophotometer: An infrared spectrophotometer measures the absorption of infrared radiation by molecules. It provides valuable information about the functional groups present in a compound, allowing for the identification of organic and inorganic substances.

Fluorescence Spectrophotometer: This type of spectrophotometer measures the fluorescence emission of molecules. When certain molecules absorb light at one wavelength, they emit light at a longer wavelength. Fluorescence spectroscopy is used for sensitive detection, quantification, and characterization of fluorescent compounds, including biomolecules like proteins and nucleic acids.

Circular Dichroism (CD) Spectrophotometer: A CD spectrophotometer measures the differential absorption of left and right circularly polarized light by chiral molecules. It provides information about the secondary structure of biomolecules like proteins and nucleic acids and is used in structural biology and biochemistry.

Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectrophotometer: An FTIR spectrophotometer is a type of IR spectrophotometer that uses Fourier transform techniques to provide high-resolution infrared spectra. It is widely used in research and industry for the identification of materials and the study of molecular vibrations.

Raman Spectrophotometer: Raman spectroscopy measures the scattering of light by molecules, providing information about molecular vibrations and crystal structures. It is useful for identifying and characterizing various materials, including chemicals and minerals. Nuclear

Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectrometer: As mentioned earlier, NMR spectroscopy is a type of molecular spectrophotometer that uses the magnetic properties of certain atomic nuclei to determine the local environment and molecular structure of compounds.

Each of these spectrophotometers has specific applications and advantages depending on the type of information needed and the properties of the molecules being studied. Researchers and scientists often use a combination of these techniques to gain a comprehensive understanding of the molecules they are investigating.

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