IR Vs. NMR Spectroscopy: What's The Difference?

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Many different chemicals are indistinguishable in their appearance. That's where NMR spectroscopy, IR spectroscopy, and mass spectrometry come in.

These analytical methods allow chemists to determine the structures of compounds and study their inner workings for drug discovery and other industries. But what's the difference between NMR spectroscopy and IR spectroscopy?

What kinds of spectroscopy are there?

Before you can get a better understanding of the difference between IR and NMR spectroscopy, you need to first consider what spectroscopy is. Spectroscopy, by definition, is the study if the interaction between electromagnetic radiation and matter.

There are three different types of spectroscopy. These types include:

  1. Absorption spectroscopy. This type of spectroscopy uses an electromagnetic spectrum that a substance absorbs. IR and NMR spectroscopy are two forms of absorption spectroscopy.

  2. Emission spectroscopy. This type of spectroscopy uses an electromagnetic spectrum that a substance emits rather than absorbs, such as luminescence.

  3. Scatter spectroscopy. This type of spectroscopy doesn't use an electromagnetic spectrum but measures the amount of light that a substance scatters at different wavelengths.

Key differences between IR and NMR spectroscopy

Both IR and NMR spectroscopy are forms of absorption spectroscopy, but they don't do the same thing. IR spectroscopy stands for infrared spectroscopy. It involves studying the absorption of infrared radiation.

Infrared radiation causes a vibrational transition in a given molecule. Chemists typically use infrared spectroscopy to identify functional groups that are present in the molecules.

The most common applications for IR spectroscopy include:

  • Quantitative analysis

  • Detection of impurities

  • Identification of substances

  • Studying a reaction's progress

  • Identification of a functional group

NMR spectroscopy stands for nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. It's used to study the radiofrequency radiation by nuclei in a magnetic field. Hydrogen nuclei are the most commonly studied.

It's a spinning charge that creates the magnetic field in the nuclei, so they act like tiny magnets. Chemists can use these magnetic fields to study the behaviors of given samples.

Where can I find a benchtop NMR spectrometer for my lab?

NMR spectroscopy is one of the most useful analytical methods and plays a vital role in research chemistry. Whether you're using benchtop NMR spectrometers in your classroom or lab, you can be sure you'll get the most out of your NMR applications.

Nanalysis offers a variety of NMR spectrometers including portable NMR spectrometers and tabletop NMR spectrometers. To learn more about our products like the 60 MHz benchtop NMR spectrometer, contact Nanalysis today.