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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 8 Issue 5 (2003) pp 336-339

Atomic Spectrum Simulator For General Chemistry

Timothy L. Sorey,* John R. Amend, Kory Karr, and Scott Furois

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, 59717,
Received January 22, 2003. Accepted February 24, 2003.

Published online: 24 August 2003

Abstract. Students performing a spectral analysis upon an array of gas-discharge tubes with simple diffraction gratings has been an important part of freshman chemistry at Montana State University at Bozeman. This physical phenomenon not only offers observable “fingerprints of nature” from specific atoms, but also introduces an important phenomenon that segues into quantized electron orbitals and molecular bonding theories. This article describes a guided-inquiry spectroscopy laboratory that employs original interactive software: “Atomic Spectrum.” This software is integrated into this laboratory and utilized by students to help them accurately create a calibration standard from a known atomic spectrum, to easily apply this standard calibration in the collection of spectral data from an unknown, and to search through spectral data of known gases in order to find a spectral match of an unknown.

Key Words:  Computers in Chemistry; general chemistry; laboratory; curriculum; atomic spectrum; electron orbital; theory calibration; simulation software

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (929 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:


Supporting Materials:

A free downloadable version of Atomic Spectrum (AtomicSpectra Setup.exe) is available in a Zip file (1.2 MB) 10.1333/s00897030715a.

Issue date: October 1, 2003

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