Encyclopedia of Biophysics

Living Edition
| Editors: Gordon Roberts, Anthony Watts, European Biophysical Societies

Absorption Spectroscopy, the Beer-Lambert Law, and Transition Polarizations

  • Alison RodgerEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-35943-9_782-1



Absorption can be pictorially viewed as either the electric field or the magnetic field (or both) of the radiation pushing the molecular electron density from a starting arrangement to a higher-energy final one (Atkins and de Paula 2006; Atkins and Friedman 2005; Hollas 2004). The electric field is far more effective than the magnetic field in achieving the push that gets a photon absorbed. The direction of net linear displacement of charge is known as the polarization of the transition. The polarization and intensity of a transition are summarized by its electric dipole transition moment, which is a vectorial property having a well-defined direction (the transition polarization) within each molecule and a well-defined length (which is proportional to the square root of the absorbance). The transition moment may be regarded as an antenna by which the molecule absorbs light. Each transition thus has its own antenna, and the...

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Copyright information

© European Biophysical Societies' Association (EBSA) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular SciencesMacquarie UniversityMacquarie ParkAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Alison Rodger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Molecular SciencesMacquarie UniversityMacquarie ParkAustralia