15 Apr 2009

Inorganic Chemistry Spectroscopy Tutorial: Theoretical Principles and Applications

Web Resources and Apps

Submitted by Jason Cooke, Department of Chemistry, University of Alberta, Canada
Course Level: 

We have developed an online tutorial that demonstrates the fundamental principles and applications of the various types of spectroscopy that students will encounter in the inorganic chemistry laboratory, namely infrared spectroscopy (IR), nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) and UV-visible spectroscopy (UV-vis).  The tutorial has been designed as a stand-alone interactive resource that can either introduce the fundamental aspects of spectroscopy from first principles or serve as a supplement for students who prefer to learn visually in an individual setting.  A key part of the interactive nature of the tutorial is the inclusion of problems (with explained answers) as the student works through the material.

Learning Goals: 

Students should be able to use this resource to supplement their knowledge of basic spectroscopic principles and to test what they have learned.  As the application of spectroscopy to analyzing inorganic compounds is an exercise in creative problem solving, the student can test their skills against a selection of interactive problems.

Implementation Notes: 

The tutorial is a stand-alone website created using Adobe Flash.  It should function correctly on any modern browser so long as a Flash plug-in (minimum version 4.0) is installed.

The primary intent is for students to use the tutorial as a self-paced exercise, but instructors could potentially use some of the animations or examples to augment their lectures.

We have received extremely positive feedback from students who are visual learners and prefer an interactive online experience to traditional reading/problem sets.

Time Required: 
Dependent on the user
Evaluation Methods: 

Evaluation Results: 

Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence


I have provided this link to students in the Inorganic Chemistry class and lab for several semesters.  It is a great visual reinforcement of the theory and concepts for several of the spectroscopy techniques used in the characterization of compounds prepared in the laboratory.  The animations are very well done and is a great supplement to written notes and figures the students obtain in class and in the textbook.  Several students have told me they found this particular tutorial very useful for the interpretation of spectra for their lab reports.

An article about this tutorial just appeared in JCE: Nillson, G.; Fok, E.; Ng, J. M.; Cooke, J. A Web-Based Spectrscopy Tutorial for the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory. J. Chem. Educ. 2010, 87, ASAP.
DOI: 10.1021/ed100266h


I like this and will use on the first day of lab. After the students browse through the tutorial, I will give them the structure of a couple of  inorganic compounds (recently published in the literature) and ask them to predict what they would expect to see in the IR, NMR, and UV-vis. This should give the students some good practice.

I have assigned this in my class last Fall 2011 in my intermediate/advanced Inorganic Course.  3 out of 10 students wrote in my evaluation that they like that this is a web resource because they can always go back to it to practice. 

I started assigning it to my research students as well, specially to those who just finished gen chem.  Its easier to discuss characterization techniques with them.

Thanks very much for your positive and supportive comments.  I am very glad that the VIPEr community find the tutorial to be useful.

Cheers, Jason

Thank you! I have found these tutorials to be very helpful. I have Inorganic Chemistry students work through them together in lab.

The VIPEr community supports respectful and voluntary sharing. Click here for a description of our default Creative Commons license.