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According to quantum mechanics, atoms and molecules can only hold certain defined quantities of energy, or exist in specific states. When such quanta of electromagnetic radiation are emitted or absorbed by an atom or molecule, energy of the radiation changes the state of the atom or molecule from an initial state to a final state. An absorption band is a range of wavelengths, frequencies or energies in the electromagnetic spectrum which are characteristic of a particular transition from initial to final state in a substance.
According to quantum mechanics, atoms and molecules can only hold certain defined quantities of energy, or exist in specific states. When electromagnetic radiation is absorbed by an atom or molecule, the energy of the radiation changes the state of the atom or molecule from an initial state to a final state. The number of states in a specific energy range is discrete for gaseous or diluted systems, with discrete energy levels. Condensed systems, like liquids or solids, have a continuous density of states distribution and often possess continuous energy bands. In order for a substance to change its energy it must do so in a series of "steps" by the absorption of a photon. This absorption process can move a particle, like an electron, from an occupied state to an empty or unoccupied state. It can also move a whole vibrating or rotating system, like a molecule, from one vibrational or rotational state to another or it can create a quasiparticle like a phonon or a plasmon in a solid.
When a photon is absorbed, the electromagnetic field of the photon disappears as it initiates a change in the state of the system that absorbs the photon. Energy, momentum, angular momentum, magnetic dipole moment and electric dipole moment are transported from the photon to the system. Because there are conservation laws, that have to be satisfied, the transition has to meet a series of constraints. This results in a series of selection rules. It is not possible to make any transition that lies within the energy or frequency range that is observed.
The strength of an electromagnetic absorption process is mainly determined by two factors. First it is important to realize that transitions that only change the magnetic dipole moment of the system are much weaker than transitions that change the electric dipole moment and that transitions to higher order moments like quadrupole transitions are weaker than dipole transitions. Second, not all transitions have the same transition matrix element, absorption coefficient or oscillator strength.
For some types of bands or spectroscopic disciplines temperature and statistical mechanics plays an important role. For (far) infrared, microwave and radio frequency ranges the temperature dependent occupation numbers of states and the difference between Bose-Einstein statistics and Fermi-Dirac statistics determines the intensity of observed absorptions. For other energy ranges thermal motion effects, like Doppler broadening may determine the linewidth.
A wide variety of absorption band and line shapes exist, and the analysis of the band or line shape can be used to determine information about the system that causes it. In many cases it is convenient to assume that a narrow spectral line is a Lorentzian or Gaussian, depending respectively on the decay mechanism or temperature effects like Doppler broadening. Analysis of the spectral density and the intensities, width and shape of spectral lines sometimes can yield a lot of information about the observed system like it is done with Mössbauer spectra.
In systems with a very large number of states like macromolecules and large conjugated systems the separate energy levels can't always be distinguished in an absorption spectrum. If the line broadening mechanism is known and the shape of then spectral density is clearly visible in the spectrum, it is possible to get the desired data. Sometimes it is enough to know the lower or upper limits of the band or its position for an analysis.
For condensed matter and solids the shape of absorption bands are often determined by transitions between states in their continuous density of states distributions. For crystals the electronic band structure determines the density of states. In fluids, glasses and amorphous solids there is no long range correlation and the dispersion relations are isotropic. This makes density of states calculations of absorption band shapes easier. For charge-transfer complexes and conjugated systems the band width is determined by a variety of factors.
Electromagnetic transitions in atoms, molecules and condensed matter mainly take place at energies corresponding to the UV and visible part of the spectrum. Core electrons in atoms, and many other phenomena, are observed with different brands of XAS in the X-ray energy range. Electromagnetic transitions in atomic nuclei, as observed in Mössbauer spectroscopy, take place in the gamma ray part of the spectrum. The main factors that cause broadening of the spectral line into an absorption band of a molecular solid are the distributions of vibrational and rotational energies of the molecules in the sample (and also those of their excited states). In solid crystals the shape of absorption bands are determined by the density of states of initial and final states of electronic states or lattice vibrations, called phonons, in the crystal structure. In gas phase spectroscopy, the fine structure afforded by these factors can be discerned, but in solution-state spectroscopy, the differences in molecular micro environments further broaden the structure to give smooth bands. Electronic transition bands of molecules may be from tens to several hundred nanometers in breadth.
Vibrational transitions and optical phonon transitions take place in the infrared part of the spectrum, at wavelengths of around 1-30 micrometres. 
Rotational transitions take place in the far infrared and microwave regions. 
Absorption bands in the radio frequency range are found in NMR spectroscopy. The frequency ranges and intensities are determined by the magnetic moment of the nuclei that are observed, the applied magnetic field and temperature occupation number differences of the magnetic states.
Materials with broad absorption bands are being applied in pigments, dyes and optical filters. Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and chromophores are applied as UV absorbers and reflectors in sunscreen.
In physics, electromagnetic radiation (EMR) consists of waves of the electromagnetic (EM) field, which propagate through space and carry momentum and electromagnetic radiant energy. Types of EMR include radio waves, microwaves, infrared, (visible) light, ultraviolet, X-rays, and gamma rays, all of which are part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of frequencies of electromagnetic radiation and their respective wavelengths and photon energies.
Infrared spectroscopy is the measurement of the interaction of infrared radiation with matter by absorption, emission, or reflection. It is used to study and identify chemical substances or functional groups in solid, liquid, or gaseous forms. It can be used to characterize new materials or identify and verify known and unknown samples. The method or technique of infrared spectroscopy is conducted with an instrument called an infrared spectrometer which produces an infrared spectrum. An IR spectrum can be visualized in a graph of infrared light absorbance on the vertical axis vs. frequency, wavenumber or wavelength on the horizontal axis. Typical units of wavenumber used in IR spectra are reciprocal centimeters, with the symbol cm−1. Units of IR wavelength are commonly given in micrometers, symbol μm, which are related to the wavenumber in a reciprocal way. A common laboratory instrument that uses this technique is a Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer. Two-dimensional IR is also possible as discussed below.
Spectroscopy is the field of study that measures and interprets the electromagnetic spectra that result from the interaction between electromagnetic radiation and matter as a function of the wavelength or frequency of the radiation. Matter waves and acoustic waves can also be considered forms of radiative energy, and recently gravitational waves have been associated with a spectral signature in the context of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)
A quantum mechanical system or particle that is bound—that is, confined spatially—can only take on certain discrete values of energy, called energy levels. This contrasts with classical particles, which can have any amount of energy. The term is commonly used for the energy levels of the electrons in atoms, ions, or molecules, which are bound by the electric field of the nucleus, but can also refer to energy levels of nuclei or vibrational or rotational energy levels in molecules. The energy spectrum of a system with such discrete energy levels is said to be quantized.
A spectral line is a weaker or stronger region in an otherwise uniform and continuous spectrum, resulting from emission or absorption of light in a narrow frequency range, compared with the nearby frequencies. Spectral lines are often used to identify atoms and molecules. These "fingerprints" can be compared to the previously collected ones of atoms and molecules, and are thus used to identify the atomic and molecular components of stars and planets, which would otherwise be impossible.
The emission spectrum of a chemical element or chemical compound is the spectrum of frequencies of electromagnetic radiation emitted due to an electron making a transition from a high energy state to a lower energy state. The photon energy of the emitted photon is equal to the energy difference between the two states. There are many possible electron transitions for each atom, and each transition has a specific energy difference. This collection of different transitions, leading to different radiated wavelengths, make up an emission spectrum. Each element's emission spectrum is unique. Therefore, spectroscopy can be used to identify elements in matter of unknown composition. Similarly, the emission spectra of molecules can be used in chemical analysis of substances.
Absorption spectroscopy refers to spectroscopic techniques that measure the absorption of radiation, as a function of frequency or wavelength, due to its interaction with a sample. The sample absorbs energy, i.e., photons, from the radiating field. The intensity of the absorption varies as a function of frequency, and this variation is the absorption spectrum. Absorption spectroscopy is performed across the electromagnetic spectrum.
Rotational–vibrational spectroscopy is a branch of molecular spectroscopy concerned with infrared and Raman spectra of molecules in the gas phase. Transitions involving changes in both vibrational and rotational states can be abbreviated as rovibrational transitions. When such transitions emit or absorb photons, the frequency is proportional to the difference in energy levels and can be detected by certain kinds of spectroscopy. Since changes in rotational energy levels are typically much smaller than changes in vibrational energy levels, changes in rotational state are said to give fine structure to the vibrational spectrum. For a given vibrational transition, the same theoretical treatment as for pure rotational spectroscopy gives the rotational quantum numbers, energy levels, and selection rules. In linear and spherical top molecules, rotational lines are found as simple progressions at both higher and lower frequencies relative to the pure vibration frequency. In symmetric top molecules the transitions are classified as parallel when the dipole moment change is parallel to the principal axis of rotation, and perpendicular when the change is perpendicular to that axis. The ro-vibrational spectrum of the asymmetric rotor water is important because of the presence of water vapor in the atmosphere.
Rotational spectroscopy is concerned with the measurement of the energies of transitions between quantized rotational states of molecules in the gas phase. The spectra of polar molecules can be measured in absorption or emission by microwave spectroscopy or by far infrared spectroscopy. The rotational spectra of non-polar molecules cannot be observed by those methods, but can be observed and measured by Raman spectroscopy. Rotational spectroscopy is sometimes referred to as pure rotational spectroscopy to distinguish it from rotational-vibrational spectroscopy where changes in rotational energy occur together with changes in vibrational energy, and also from ro-vibronic spectroscopy where rotational, vibrational and electronic energy changes occur simultaneously.
Raman scattering or the Raman effect is the inelastic scattering of photons by matter, meaning that there is both an exchange of energy and a change in the light's direction. Typically this effect involves vibrational energy being gained by a molecule as incident photons from a visible laser are shifted to lower energy. This is called normal Stokes Raman scattering. The effect is exploited by chemists and physicists to gain information about materials for a variety of purposes by performing various forms of Raman spectroscopy. Many other variants of Raman spectroscopy allow rotational energy to be examined and electronic energy levels may be examined if an X-ray source is used in addition to other possibilities. More complex techniques involving pulsed lasers, multiple laser beams and so on are known.
Stokes shift is the difference between positions of the band maxima of the absorption and emission spectra of the same electronic transition. It is named after Irish physicist George Gabriel Stokes. Sometimes Stokes shifts are given in wavelength units, but this is less meaningful than energy, wavenumber or frequency units because it depends on the absorption wavelength. For instance, a 50 nm Stokes shift from absorption at 300 nm is larger in terms of energy than a 50 nm Stokes shift from absorption at 600 nm.
Resonance Raman spectroscopy is a Raman spectroscopy technique in which the incident photon energy is close in energy to an electronic transition of a compound or material under examination. The frequency coincidence can lead to greatly enhanced intensity of the Raman scattering, which facilitates the study of chemical compounds present at low concentrations.
Einstein coefficients are quantities describing the probability of absorption or emission of a photon by an atom or molecule. The Einstein A coefficients are related to the rate of spontaneous emission of light, and the Einstein B coefficients are related to the absorption and stimulated emission of light. Throughout this article, "light" refers to any electromagnetic radiation, not necessarily in the visible spectrum.
Ultrafast laser spectroscopy is a spectroscopic technique that uses ultrashort pulse lasers for the study of dynamics on extremely short time scales. Different methods are used to examine the dynamics of charge carriers, atoms, and molecules. Many different procedures have been developed spanning different time scales and photon energy ranges; some common methods are listed below.
The absorption of electromagnetic radiation by water depends on the state of the water.
Photoelectrochemical processes are processes in photoelectrochemistry; they usually involve transforming light into other forms of energy. These processes apply to photochemistry, optically pumped lasers, sensitized solar cells, luminescence, and photochromism.
In vibrational spectroscopy, an overtone band is the spectral band that occurs in a vibrational spectrum of a molecule when the molecule makes a transition from the ground state (v=0) to the second excited state (v=2), where v is the vibrational quantum number obtained from solving the Schrödinger equation for the molecule.
Chromium(I) hydride, systematically named chromium hydride, is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula (CrH)
n. It occurs naturally in some kinds of stars where it has been detected by its spectrum. However, molecular chromium(I) hydride with the formula CrH has been isolated in solid gas matrices. The molecular hydride is very reactive. As such the compound is not well characterised, although many of its properties have been calculated via computational chemistry.
In spectroscopy, collision-induced absorption and emission refers to spectral features generated by inelastic collisions of molecules in a gas. Such inelastic collisions may induce quantum transitions in the molecules, or the molecules may form transient supramolecular complexes with spectral features different from the underlying molecules. Collision-induced absorption and emission is particularly important in dense gases, such as hydrogen and helium clouds found in astronomical systems.