Honors Theses

Date of Award

2010

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Chemistry and Biochemistry

First Advisor

Nathan Hammer

Relational Format

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

The nature of matter and light has been a subject of philosophical debate since antiquity. However, by the end of the nineteenth century, much of the scientific community believed that most of the significant principles that govern the natural world had been discovered. Classical physics was able to explain complex phenomena such as planetary motions, elasticity, and hydrodynamics. The field of thermodynamics had been developed nearly to completion by James Joule, Sadi Carnot, Josiah Gibbs, et al. The magnetic and electronic nature of light had been demonstrated by James Clerk Maxwell's famous equations. In the neighboring field of chemistry, a periodic table had been developed with a self-consistent set of atomic masses assigned to each element. The fundamental principles of chemical reactions had been elucidated by Svante Arrhenius. Due to these and other incredible strides in physics and chemistry, many scientists believed that the future of the physical sciences would consist of measuring constants to more decimal places, and classifying an endless number of chemical reactions. Only a few confounding problems existed, including an explanation of blackbody radiation that was consistent with experiment. The explanation provided by Max Planck and later corroborated by Albert Einstein started the quantum upheaval that forever changed the picture of the subatomic world. Decades of applied quantum mechanics have culminated in the science of spectroscopy. This senior honors thesis deals with the development of several spectroscopic techniques and their applications in analyzing chemical systems.

Included in

Chemistry Commons

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