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polarimetry

in analytic chemistry, measurement of the angle of rotation of the plane of polarized light (that is, a beam of light in which the vibrations of the electromagnetic waves are confined to one plane) that results upon its passage through certain transparent materials. Polarimetry is of interest to the chemist because the ability of a substance to affect polarized light in this way is closely related to its chemical structure. A compound that displays this ability is called optically active (see optical activity).

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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