Skip to main content
Library homepage
Chemistry LibreTexts

10.6: Information Obtained from IR Spectra

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    • IR is most useful in providing information about the presence or absence of specific functional groups.

    • IR can provide a molecular fingerprint that can be used when comparing samples. If two pure samples display the same IR spectrum it can be argued that they are the same compound.

    • IR does not provide detailed information or proof of molecular formula or structure. It provides information on molecular fragments, specifically functional groups.

    • Therefore it is very limited in scope, and must be used in conjunction with other techniques to provide a more complete picture of the molecular structure


    The typical IR absorption range for covalent bonds is 600 - 4000 cm-1. The graph shows the regions of the spectrum where the following types of bonds normally absorb. For example a sharp band around 2200-2400 cm-1 would indicate the possible presence of a C-N or a C-C triple bond.



    Although the entire IR spectrum can be used as a fingerprint for the purposes of comparing molecules, the 600 - 1400 cm-1 range is called the fingerprint region. This is normally a complex area showing many bands, frequently overlapping each other. This complexity limits its use to that of a fingerprint, and should be ignored by beginners when analyzing the spectrum. As a student, you should focus your analysis on the rest of the spectrum, that is the region to the left of 1400 cm-1.


    This page titled 10.6: Information Obtained from IR Spectra is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Sergio Cortes.

    • Was this article helpful?