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Optical activity

This activity is an ideal way to introduce the concept of chirality and optical isomerism to students.

During the lesson they first learn to recognise chiral molecules and then witness a demonstration to see how plane polarised light is rotated in different directions by enantiomers of carvone.

Finally, they apply their knowledge by explaining how the observed angle of rotation can be measured using a polarimeter. There is an optional extra where students can use a homemade polarimeter and carry out a simple calculation to work out the specific rotation of carvone.


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