Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Analysis of Natural Products


Natural products are compounds produced by living organisms. A great deal of exploration has been done involving the use of natural products in pharmaceutical drug discovery and drug design. Identification and analysis of natural products from organisms is an important part of modern organic chemistry.

Many natural products have chiral centers making them optically active. Determination of the optical activity of a compound using polarimetry allows the user to determine various characteristics, including the identity, of the specific chemical compound being investigated. A compound will consistently have the same specific rotation under identical experimental conditions. To determine the specific rotation of the sample, use Biot’s law:

α = [α] ℓ c

where α is the observed optical rotation in units of degrees, [α] is the specific rotation in units of degrees (the formal unit for specific rotation is degrees dm-1 mL g-1, but scientific literature uses just degrees), ℓ is the length of the cell in units of dm, and c is the sample concentration in units of grams per milliliter.

This experiment allows you to investigate various natural products and their reactions using polarimetry.


In this experiment, you will

  • Determine the stereoisomeric form of tartaric acid using a Polarimeter.
  • Isomerize (–)-menthone into (+)-isomenthone and observe the polarimetric changes between the two compounds.
  • Differentiate between two commercial compounds containing different enantiomers of carvone using boiling point, odor, and polarimetry.
  • Measure the observed rotation of neat carvone samples.
  • Determine the enantiomeric excess of each carvone in the store-bought natural oil samples.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Organic Chemistry with Vernier

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Determining Melting Temperature
2Recrystallization of Benzoic Acid and Aspirin
3Determination of a Boiling Point: Simple and Fractional Distillation
4Identifying an Unknown Analgesic by Melting Temperature and Thin-Layer Chromatography
5Separation of Organic Compounds by Acid-Base Extraction Techniques
6Understanding Polarimetry
7Identification of Organic Unknowns Using Polarimetry
8Investigating Gas Chromatography
9Fractional Distillation of Esters
10Understanding Intermolecular Forces Using a Gas Chromatograph: Enthalpy of Vaporization
11Investigating Thermodynamic Relationships of Substituted Hydrocarbons
12Extraction of Spinach Pigments and Analysis by Electronic Absorption Spectroscopy
13SN1: Synthesis of t-butyl chloride
14SN2: Synthesis of 1-bromobutane
15Observing the Reaction Kinetics of Sucrose with Polarimetry
16The Synthesis and Analysis of Aspirin
17Isolation and Epoxidation of a Natural Product: Limonene
18Synthesizing Ethyl Acetate by Fisher Esterification
19Synthesis of Dibenzalacetone by Aldol Condensation
20The Diels-Alder Reaction of Anthracene with Maleic Anhydride
21Friedel-Crafts Acylation of Ferrocene
22Grignard Formation of Crystal Violet
23Synthesis of Fluorescein
24Synthesis of Methyl Orange and Its Application to Textiles
25Analysis of Natural Products
26Using a Gas Chromatograph: Identifying an Unknown Compound

Experiment 25 from Organic Chemistry with Vernier Lab Book

<i>Organic Chemistry with Vernier</i> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

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