The chemistry department at Bowdoin boasts a variety of sophisticated instrumentation that allows faculty and students to undertake extensive research on campus.

Chemistry students routinely use sophisticated instrumentation, including a Bruker multinuclear 400 MHz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, a Varian Vista MPX inductively coupled plasma (ICP) spectrometer.

Other departmental resources include a Biotage Flash Purification System, facilities for time-resolved luminescence and low temperature (4.2 K-room temperature) optical spectroscopy, and a Vacuum Atmospheres inert-atmosphere workstation with an integrated gas purification system.

The department maintains a broad spectrum of state-of-the-art instrumentation that is kept up-to-date and maintained by our instrument support technician, who also provides training on all instruments.

Computer Resources

The department has a large number of laboratory computers (both PCs and Macs) that are used for data manipulation and acquisition. There is also a cluster of dual boot PCs that are available to chemistry, biochemistry, and biology majors for advanced molecular modeling and computational chemistry. Students have access to molecular computation programs (Spartan, Gaussian, Macromodel, Amsterdam Density Functional) running on eight- or four-processor clusters tied to a disk array, as well as programs for advanced data analysis (MATLAB, Mathematica, SigmaPlot, SpectraCalc).


WebMO is a web-based interface to commercial and open-source computational chemistry codes. It allows users to quickly and easily draw 3-D structures of molecules and create input files that are then transferred to a server for quantum chemical calculations. WebMO has the capability of submitting jobs directly to the Bowdoin College High Performance Computing (HPC) Grid. 

These computers and software packages are important elements of course work and are used extensively in student research projects.

Featured Instruments Highlighting Student Work

Inductively Couples Plasma (ICP) Varian MPX Vista ICP

An ICP-OES uses a high energy argon plasma to convert elements in a solution into a gaseous, excited state form that emits electromagnetic radiation at characteristic wavelengths. The colors of the emitted light and the light intensity can be used to identify the element and determine how much of the element is present in a sample.
Student using ICP-OES
Other Instruments