Problem 8: Compound Confusion

This resource, from the Royal Society of Chemistry, can be used to develop students’ skills and understanding of spectral analysis, empirical formulae and analytical methods.

The students are contacted by the data collection manager for SpectraSchool and asked to analyse various spectra (infra-red, mass spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance) and use these, together with melting point determination, to identify six samples

There has been a flood in their laboratories which caused the labels to come off a number of bottles and corrupted some of the SpectraSchool data files. The students are informed that the six samples: caffeine, benzoic acid, paracetamol, methyl ethanoate, 2-hydroxybenzoic acid and propanoic acid.

They are provided with two IR spectra, two mass spectra and elemental analysis for two of the compounds and 1H and 13C NMR files which are unlabelled. The students’ need to use this information to identify the samples A - F and match up the 1H and 13C NMR data to each compound. They are expected to provide their results in a suitable format and a full analysis of all spectra.

Curriculum links: analytical methods, empirical formulae

Practical skills: spectral analysis, melting point determination

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