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Advanced Organic Chemistry: Infrared spectrum of ethanol

Interpreting the infrared spectrum of ethanol (ethyl alcohol)

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

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

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

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Interpretation of the infrared spectrum of ethanol

The most prominent infrared absorption lines of ethanol

The most distinct feature in the infrared spectrum of alcohols is the broad absorption band centred around wavenumbers 3400 to 3230 cm-1 due to O-H stretching vibrations, but broadened by intermolecular hydrogen bonding (diagram below).

infrared spectrum of ethanol diagram of intermolecular hydrogen bonding forces between liquid alcohol molecules doc brown A level organic chemistry revision notes R-OHδ+llllδ:O-R ... etc.

C-H stretching vibration absorptions are observed for ethanol ~3010 to 2850 cm-1

C-H bending ~140 cm-1

The C-O stretching band for primary alcohols is ~1050 to 1075 - 1000 cm-1.

The O-H bending deformation band for primary alcohols is ~1350 to 1260 cm-1.

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


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