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Spectroscopic Techniques

  1. H Jane Dyson

Published Online: 17 JUN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0002703.pub2



How to Cite

Dyson, H. J. 2010. Spectroscopic Techniques. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 17 JUN 2010


A number of spectroscopic methods are available to the biochemical researcher. They give different information on a number of time and wavelength scales, and can be used to determine concentrations and molecular weights, as well as providing information on secondary and tertiary structure of proteins. Spectroscopic methods are utilised to detect rapid changes in the structures of biological macromolecules. Three-dimensional structures can be calculated using information from nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and other spectra. Size limitations in NMR spectroscopy have been largely ameliorated through the application of ever-higher magnetic fields and innovations in pulse sequences. Other recent innovations include applications of fluorescence to single molecules, as well as to the visualisation of particular molecules within cells.

Key Concepts:

  • Spectroscopic techniques form part of the basic toolset of research in the life sciences.

  • Spectroscopy utilises the various wavelengths of light in the electromagnetic spectrum to give information on various aspects of the structure, dynamics and function of molecules.


  • ultraviolet;
  • infrared;
  • nuclear magnetic resonance;
  • mass spectrometry