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Spectroscopy on Chemical Reactions and Environments (SCRE)


Admission requirements

Elective course in the MSc Chemistry.
Suitable for students with a BSc MST or equivalent BSc degree. Students should have a basic understanding of quantum chemistry (atomic s, p, d orbitals, molecular orbitals, meaning of the wave function), the properties of light (energy, wavelength), and the basics of spectroscopy (quantum numbers, selection rules). An optional crash course in these aspects will be provided before the first lecture.


In the course, we will focus on how we can use spectroscopy to understand the chemistry around us: in the lab, in the chemical industry, and in our environment. For example, how can we follow the bond making and breaking during a chemical reaction? How do we determine what the active sites in a catalyst look like? Or how do we measure the concentration of pollutants in our atmosphere?

To answer this type of questions, we will study both the physical principles and the experimental tricks of popular spectroscopic techniques: UV-VIS, IR, Raman, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, EXAFS, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. For each of these methods, we will see what they can tell us about the chemical structure of materials, and what the spectra look like for solids, (dissolved) molecules, complexes, or gases. Furthermore, you will learn how we can apply spectroscopy during chemical reactions, and how we can combine it with tricks such as isotope labelling to learn about reaction mechanisms.

The basic principles of the spectroscopic methods will be introduced in the lecture notes. During the lectures, we will apply these principles to real life examples. At the end of every lecture, students will present a scientific paper on a related method or application.

Course objectives

At the end of the course, the student can

  • describe the physical principles of Raman spectroscopy, IR spectroscopy, UV-VIS spectroscopy, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, EXAFS, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy

  • describe the vibrational and electronic excitations that can occur in various forms of materials: solids, dissolved molecules or complexes, and gases

  • extract structural and chemical information out of spectroscopic data

  • choose a suitable spectroscopic technique to fit a research question

  • critically evaluate spectroscopic data and their interpretation in the literature

  • can digest and present a summary of scientific articles from the literature


Schedule information can be found on the website of the programmes. Assignment deadlines are communicated via Brightspace.

Mode of Instruction

Lectures, exercises, and computer labs.

Assessment method

  • Presentation (30%)

  • Exam (70%)

The grade for each component of the assessment must exceed an unrounded 6.0 grade to pass the course.
Participation in the computer labs is mandatory.

Reading list

  • Lecture notes

  • Slides presented during the lectures

  • Scientific literature

  • For some exercises, we will use this book (freely available online via the university library): Peter Larkin, Infrared and raman spectroscopy: principles and spectral interpretation, Elsevier 2011


Register for this course via uSis


Dr. Rik Mom


A laptop running Windows operating system is required.

According to OER article 4.8, students are entitled to view their marked examination for a period of 30 days following the publication of the results of a written examination. Students should contact the lecturer to make an appointment for such an inspection session.