Visible Absorption Spectrum Simulation

Visible Absorption Spectrum Simulation

The notion of subtractive color is not immediately obvious to most people and it takes some study to develop an intuition for it. One common manifestation of this problem arises when students are confronted with a visible absortion spectrum, which gives the extent of light absorption by a solution as a function of wavelength. While it is easy to tell what colors of light are being absorbed, students are often unable to predict what the perceived color of the solution will be (e.g., that a solution that absorbs in the red region of the spectrum will appear to be some shade of blue). The "Visible Absorption Spectrum Simulation" Learning Object allows the user to interactively construct a visible absorption spectrum from a sum of gaussian peaks. The program then calculates and displays the approximate color expected for a solution exhibiting the spectrum. It is relatively easy to modify the parameters of the spectrum to see how the solution color changes as peak wavelengths and intensities change.

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Future Possibilities

We will add more input boxes to add multiple curves at one time.

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David Westmoreland: Author
William Gladstone: Programmer

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Email Address:



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At a Glance

David Westmoreland

Science and Technology\Chemistry\Chemical Education
Science and Technology\Physics


View the Learning Object

Technical Requirements

  • Java 1.41