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Featured College Experiment: “Understanding Polarimetry”

Featured Experiment for College

Vernier offers more than 1,000 experiments in biology, chemistry, engineering/robotics, and physics that can help you inspire students and integrate data-collection technology into your science courses. We will be featuring at least one of our experiments in each edition of The Caliper.

“Understanding Polarimetry”

A polarimeter is a device that measures the rotation of linearly polarized light by an optically active sample. This is of interest to chemists because it enables differentiation between optically active stereoisomers (i.e., enantiomers). Enantiomers, also known as chiral molecules, are molecules that lack an internal plane of symmetry and have a non-superimosable mirror image, similar to your right hand and your left hand. This handedness is very common in chemicals; examples include aspirin, essential oils, sugars, and amino acids. One way to tell these molecules apart is to use polarimetry.

Schematic of a Polarimeter

In this free experiment download, students use Go Direct® Polarimeter to 

  • Become familiar with polarimetry and the use of the polarimeter.
  • Experience how sample path length and concentration affect observed optical rotation. 
  • Calculate the specific rotation for a known sugar sample using Biot’s law.
  • Determine the concentration of an unknown sugar solution.

Discover this month’s free featured experiment.

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