I'm writing a paper that discusses wavelength.
Which is correct: maximum absorbance or maximum absorption?

I guess both absorbance and absorption are used in the context of wavelength but which to use depends on what is meant.
Am I correct?
If correct, what is the difference between these two terms?

Thank you in advance!!

  • I think it is technical. I'm not a chemistry guy...but found this. You may find it helpful. It talks about absorption and absorbance in that context. teaching.shu.ac.uk/hwb/chemistry/tutorials/molspec/beers1.htm – Maulik V Nov 2 '17 at 4:35
  • @MaulikV, thank you for the link. This site uses absorption for the action and absorbance for values of absorption. It has made the difference clear, but it gives another candidate absorption maximum for the idea of maximum absorption. I'd wait for anyone for suggesting which is correct. – wanna-be-good-at-writing Nov 2 '17 at 5:54
  • What is unclear about the Wikipedia article that states that "The term absorption refers to the physical process of absorbing light, while absorbance does not always measure absorption: it measures attenuation (of transmitted radiant power). Attenuation can be caused by absorption but also reflection, scattering, and other physical processes." Only you can determine which term better fits the context of your paper. – Chemomechanics Nov 2 '17 at 6:58
  • Physics or chemistry? Because attenuation or transmittance or optical density or penetration depth all might be better terms. A one or two sentence example sentence might be useful for determining context. – Smartybartfast Nov 2 '17 at 7:25
  • @Chemomechanics, I meant optical density. That Wikipedia article made the difference between the two terms even clearer. Thank you! – wanna-be-good-at-writing Nov 2 '17 at 8:21

X has maximum absorbance means X has the maximum ability to absorb something, as in capacity. The amount of something actually absorbed may be less than the maximum.

X has maximum absorption means X absorbed all it can take. We may or may not know the maximum capacity, but if we know it can't absorb any more, we just found that out.

  • Thank you! So now maximum absorption or absorption maximum would be the right term for what I mean, which is an actual amount. I have one more question left, the order of the two words... Google search gave similar numbers of hits (when searched in combination with "optical density"). – wanna-be-good-at-writing Nov 2 '17 at 21:58
  • Maximum goes first. – LawrenceC Nov 3 '17 at 12:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.