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Circular dichroism spectropolarimetry (CD) is a method of optical spectroscopy that seems in most practical ways like UV−visible spectroscopy. The main difference between the two methods is that CD, instead of measuring the absorbance of light as a function of wavelength, measures the difference in absorbance of left versus right circularly polarized light as a function of wavelength. A CD spectrum is an observation of the structure of a chiral compound; it often serves as a “fingerprint” of the structure of biological molecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. For this reason, CD has been broadly applied in biochemistry and in many other areas ranging from organometallic to nanoscale chemistry. Despite its exceptional ease of use and connection to central topics in chemistry, however, CD remains rare in the undergraduate curriculum. This article briefly introduces the theory and practice of CD spectroscopy and a discussion of its advantages in the undergraduate curriculum and the required instrumentation.




American Chemical Society

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Journal of Chemical Education

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Chemistry Commons