LII:Information Competencies for Chemistry Undergraduates/Properties, Spectra, Crystallographic, And Safety Information

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Section 3. Properties, Spectra, Crystallographic, and Safety Information

Throughout their coursework, undergraduate chemistry students need to obtain physical and chemical properties, syntheses, spectra, crystallographic, and safety information for various substances. This section outlines expected skills and recommended resources for finding this information.


Chemistry undergraduates should be able to search property information for both known and “unknown” compounds for conducting laboratory experiments and confirming laboratory results. Students should be acquainted with various chemical identifiers (chemical name, CAS RN, structure, molecular formula) and be able to use them as starting points to locate physical and chemical properties using the resources listed below as available on their campus. Students should be aware that it may be necessary to search a variety of resources, and/or try several different identifiers, before locating the desired property; and that property values reported in the literature and obtained in their laboratory can vary due to differing conditions, i.e. using different pressure, temperature, or solvents can lead to different results. Students should be aware that some resources may be searched numerically by property values to obtain a listing of compounds exhibiting these values.

  1. Basic Property Information
    Recommended resources:
    CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (also online) $$
    Combined Chemical Dictionary (CCD), includes inorganic, organic, and more $$
    Dictionary of Inorganic and Organometallic Compounds (also online) $$
    Dictionary of Natural Products (also online) $$
    Dictionary of Organic Compounds (also online) $$
    (these first five resources and more available online as CHEMnetBASE)
    Kaye and Laby’s Table of Physical and Chemical Constants (also online)
    Knovel Critical Tables (registration required)
    Lange's Handbook of Chemistry $$
    Merck Index / Merck Index Online $$
    NIST Chemistry WebBook
    Perry's Chemical Engineers Handbook (also online) $$
    Physical Reference Data (NIST Physics Lab)
  2. Comprehensive Property Information
    When more property information is needed than that provided by basic handbooks, students should be familiar with and able to use the resources listed below. Students may need assistance from a librarian to locate additional property information and/or references in other resources.
    Recommended resources:
    Reaxys / Beilstein info and Gmelin info, selected content available online through Reaxys $$
    SciFinder, web version / Chemical Abstracts $$
    Journal of Physical and Chemical Reference Data (NIST) (also online) $$
    Landolt-Börnstein info / New Series available online through SpringerMaterials $$
    Using SpringerMaterials to Locate Your Landolt-Börnstein Volume and Chapter, by Teri Vogel, 2011
    Landolt Börnstein Substance / Property Index
    NCBI Chemical and Molecular Databases
    Physical Properties Sources Index (PPSI)


Students should be able to identify and use resources available at their campus library and online to locate spectra (e.g. infra-red, ultraviolet, nuclear magnetic resonance, mass, etc.) as needed for their laboratory and coursework.

  1. Spectra Collections Students should be able to use standard spectra collections found online and in print resources to locate spectra.
    Recommended resources:
    Aldrich Library of Spectra (FTIR; IR; NMR) $$
    CRC Handbook of Data on Common Organic Compounds / Properties of Organic Compounds (available online in CHEMnetBASE) $$
    Includes spectral peaks for over 29,000 common organic compounds.
    NIST Chemistry WebBook
    Spectra for organic compounds and some small inorganic compounds.
    Sadtler Spectra collections info (available online as KnowItAllU) $$
    SciFinder, web version $$
    Includes spectra for some compounds, plus predicted and experimental spectral diagrams for selected compounds in detailed display of chemical substance.
    Sigma-Aldrich Catalog
    Includes spectra for many compounds, and references to spectra for most compounds, including those found in the various Aldrich Library of Spectra.
    Spectral Database for Organic Compounds (SDBS) English version
    Provides spectra for 32,000 organic compounds.
  2. Spectral Data in the Literature If spectra are not found in the spectra collections listed above or if additional references are needed, students should be able to use the resources below or request assistance from a librarian to locate references to spectra or spectral data in the literature.
    Recommended resources:
    Reaxys / Beilstein info and Gmelin info, selected content available online through Reaxys $$
    SciFinder, web version / Chemical Abstracts


Students should be able to identify and use resources available at their campus library and online to locate crystallographic data as needed for their laboratory and coursework.

Recommended resources:
CSD Teaching Database
WebCSD, info $$
Thomas, I.R. and others. 2010. WebCSD: The Online Portal to the Cambridge Structural Database. J. Appl. Cryst. 43, 362-366 $$


Undergraduates should be able to identify and locate resources on their campus which provide information on how chemical substances can be safely handled, stored, and used

Recommended resources:
Bretherick's Handbook of Reactive Chemical Hazards (included in Elsevier’s Hazmat Navigator; also available from Knovel) $$
CRC Handbook of Laboratory Safety (also online) $$
Prudent practices in the laboratory: Handling and management of chemical hazards
Sax’s Dangerous Properties of Industrial Chemicals (also online) $$
Sigma Aldrich Library of Chemical Safety Data $$
TOXNET (National Library of Medicine)
Various databases, including Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB)
Safety Data Sheets (SDS), formerly Material Safety Data Sheets(MSDS):
University of Vermont SIRI MSDS Collection
University of Vermont SIRI MSDS Collection, alternate URL
Sigma-Aldrich Catalog SDS
Safety in Academic Chemistry Laboratories Volume 1: Best Practices For First- And Second-Year University Students. ACS Joint Board – Council Committee on Chemical Safety. 8th ed. 2017 (student edition, college) $$


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