© 1997 Rainer Glaser. All rights reserved.
The University of Missouri at Columbia, Chemistry 416, Organic Spectroscopy, FS97

Collaborative Learning
in Chemical Learning Communities

Project #1: Instrumental Aspects of Spectroscopy


You just received your PhD and you are beginning your professional career at an up-start chemical company. You are in charge of setting up the spectroscopy unit that is supposed to provide analytical services to the synthetic group and to provide instrumentation necessary to support mechanistic studies by the physical organic chemists. Moreover, you are dealing with quality control personnel that require the use of quantitative methods to assess identity and purity of starting materials and of your company's products.

It is your task to review the market for spectroscopy equipment suitable to perform the required tasks, to get in touch with the manufacturers and to obtain quotes, and finally to recommend the purchase of the best unit to perform the task. Your company just went public and money is not the major concern; performance is. Nevertheless, companies don't like you wasting money and you should make your decisions well prepared. Your job is on the line.


We will be dealing in this lecture with some types of spectrometers. Most of these discussions are however rather schematic. There is a big difference between knowing about the principles of a spectrometer and knowing the realities that decide purchases. This assignment is meant to allow you to learn more details about one type of spectrometer. Of course, this assignment also should help to enable you to actually purchase any other item in the future in a responsible and reasonable way.


(1) Imagine and define one kind of task that your spectroscopy lab might have to perform on a routine basis.

Come up with an interesting idea for a task to be performed with spectroscopy. You might consider a task close to your current research if you so desire. Briefly describe and define the task. Decide whether you want qualitative of quantitative analysis. Decide whether you need static or dynamic capabilities. Decide whether you need temperature control or not. Decide whether you want an operator driven or computer automated device. Consider all other relevant issues.

(2) Define the best spectroscopic method to perform this task.

Considering your selected task, argue what kind of spectroscopy might be best suited for the problem.

(3) Research the market for suitable equipment and accessories. Obtain detailed information and obtain quotes for at least two similar products from different companies.

Find out what companies produce the types of spectrometers you need. Generate a list of at least 5 companies that manufacture the desired item. You can do that by reading the "Methods" section of related research papers. You can also read journals such as Analytical Chemistry or Science which publish a LabGuide or Guide to Instrumentation at least once a year. There also is quite a bit of information out on the web these days!

Contact the companies using their 1-800 numbers (given on ads for example) and find out about their local sales offices (Midwest region). Usually there are offices in St. Louis or Kansas City and most certainly in Chicago. Contact the local sales office and ask for literature about their products. Once you have a general idea of what you want, narrow the search and obtain detailed quotes. Make sure you get quotes for all parts that comprise the fully functional device for your task. This includes sample cells and the like. Prepare a quote listing all parts as line items, one quote for each of the two devices from the different companies.

(4) Decide on one of the spectrometers to buy and argue your case.

Constraints on the Choice of Topic

You are not entirely free in the choice of the task as I would like to have the following areas covered:

	UV/Vis Spectroscopy 
	Fluorescence Spectroscopy
	Phosphorescence Spectroscopy
	Circular Dichroism Spectroscopy
	IR Spectroscopy (mostly organic)
	FIR Spectroscopy (mostly inorganic)  
	Mass Spectroscopy (basic method for organic analysis)  

Write-up and Submission

Your write-up needs to be emailed to the instructor as an attachment. The instructor will evaluate the electronic submissions for completeness. Incomplete submissions will be returned by electronic mail with comments as to what additions and improvements are required. The write-up can be prepared in either of two formats.

HTML Format. If you have expertise at writing HTML (hypertext mark-up language), then please submit your report as an html file. In this case, feel free to incorporate links to companies' web pages. If you choose this option, please name the html file "group_n_project1.html" where n is the number of your group. If you created any files that you want to link to this page, please start the names of these files all with "group_n_" and include these files as attachements as well. In the end, I would like to have the group_n_project1.html file together with all its local links in the Chemistry 416 site (for archival purposes).

WORD Format. You can email a WORD file to me. I will convert this file into a PDF file and post this file on the web. Note that this format does not allow for any links to be included and also might limit your capabilities simply for the document's one-dimensional nature.

The write-up of the project must contain the following information. Please stick closely to the sequence. Failure to provide the information will delay approval and posting until all requested data has been submitted. Also, you should review the peer review instructions for this assignemnt before you write your report.

(1) Group Name

(2) Group Members
The names of all group members and their e-mail addresses in the format Last Name, First Name, e-mail address with one entry per line.

(3) Group Meetings
Description as to how often the group has met to work on the Chemistry 416 Group Project #1. Include information as to where you have met. Include accurate estimates of the time spend in each meeting.

(4) Project Title and Description
Your report should include the following items.
A title that describes the task and the type of spectroscopy used (e.g. Steroid Stereochemistry Determination Using CD Spectroscopy). Come up with a catchy, brief, descriptive title for your project and use it as the headline to item (4).
The introduction should contain one paragraph containing a description of the task (with chemical formulas). The second paragraph of the introduction should contain a description of the spectroscopic method used and arguments why it is best suited for the task selected.
The main section should begin with a paragraph describing how you screened the market. This section should contain the list of at least 5 companies that manufacture the type of spectrometer you are interested in. In the second paragraph, argue for the class of device you decided to get (low-end or top-notch). The present the arguments that led you to the selection of the two devices for which you obtained quotes. The next section should compare the two quoted devices in the selected class in some detail as far as technical specifications are concerned. This section should identify and compare three of the most important quality characteristics for the type of device selected. The next section should focus on costs. This section must contain a table in which all required components (device components, accessories, supplies) are listed with their prices for the two devices.
The conclusion should contain a reasonable discussion of the Pros and Cons for the alternatives and the decision you reached based on your research.

(5) Group Dynamics
Briefly describe experiences made while working on this project with the group. Mention advantages and be frank about problemes you encountered. Comment as to whether the collaborative learning went beyond working on the Chemistry 416 Group Project. Do you think you benefited on a personal level from the interactions you have had with your peers? Conclude by stating whether you would want to engage in such group activities again.

Relevant Dates and Deadlines

Approval of Topic. Claim a certain kind of spectroscopy by sending a message to the mailing list stating your claim. Should similar claims be made, then the time on the email header decides priority. Subsequently, you should meet with the instructor briefly to discuss the scenario and get it approved. It is the purpose of this approval to avoid weak proposals from the start. The deadline for approval is Friday, September 19, 1997.

Submission of Report. Friday, October 10, 1997. Feel free to submit your assignment earlier so that it can be evaluated for completeness (requires a couple of days). NO NEW OR REVISED ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED AFTER THIS DATE. If your complete assignment is not received by this date, all members of the group are assigned scores of zero. After topic approval, you have three weeks to complete the assignment.

Submission of Evaluations. Friday, October 17, 1997. You have one week to get the evaluations in.

Posting of Final Results of Group Project #1. Wednesday, October 22, 1997.

Absolument mon ami, l'excellence est une habitude.