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Advanced Organic Chemistry: Infrared spectrum of ethanoic acid

Interpreting the infrared spectrum of ethanoic acid (acetic acid)

Doc Brown's Chemistry Advanced Level Pre-University Chemistry Revision Study Notes for UK IB KS5 A/AS GCE advanced A level organic chemistry students US K12 grade 11 grade 12 organic chemistry courses involving molecular spectroscopy analysing infrared spectra of ethanoic acid

infrared spectrum of ethanoic acid wavenumbers cm-1 functional group detection fingerprint pattern identification of ethanoic acid doc brown's advanced organic chemistry revision notes 

Spectra obtained from a liquid film of ethanoic acid. The right-hand part of the of the infrared spectrum of ethanoic acid, wavenumbers ~1500 to 400 cm-1 is considered the fingerprint region for the identification of ethanoic acid and most organic compounds. It is due to a unique set of complex overlapping vibrations of the atoms of the molecule of ethanoic acid.

Ethanoic acid C2H4O2  (c) doc b , (c) doc b , (c) doc b , (c) doc b

Interpretation of the infrared spectrum of ethanoic acid

The most prominent infrared absorption lines of ethanoic acid

A very broad peak at wavenumbers 2800 to 3550 cm-1 for O-H stretching vibrations - the breadth is due to the complexity of vibrations between hydrogen bonded ethanoic acid molecules.

Typical C-H vibrations occur at~2800 cm-1.

The relatively sharp and strong absorption ~1700 cm-1 is due to the stretching vibration of the C=O (carbonyl group).

Peaking at ~1300 cm-1 are the C-O stretching vibrations of the C-O bond.

Around 1400 cm-1 are complex bands due to the interaction of C=O and O-H vibrations.

There is also an O-H vibration band at ~900 cm-1.

The presence of strong absorption at wavenumbers for C=O and O-H stretching vibrations is very indicative of a carboxylic acid group in the molecule.

The absence of other specific functional group bands will show that particular functional group is absent from the ethanoic acid molecular structure.


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