Actinometers are instruments used to measure the heating power of radiation. They are used in meteorology to measure solar radiation as pyrheliometers.

An actinometer is a chemical system or physical device which determines the number ofphotons in a beam integrally or per unit time. This name is commonlyapplied to devices used in the ultraviolet and visible wavelength ranges.For example, solutions of iron(III) oxalate (e.g. potassium ferrioxalate) can be used as a chemicalactinometer, while bolometers, thermopiles, and photodiodes are physicaldevices giving a reading that can be correlated to the number of photonsdetected.

Chemical Actinometry

Chemical actinometry involves measuring radiant flux via the yield from a chemical reaction. It requires a chemical with a known quantum yield and easily analyzed reaction products.

Choosing an actinometer

Potassium ferrioxalate is commonly used, as it is simple to use and sensitive over a wide range of relevant wavelengths (254 nm to 500 nm). Other actinometers include malachite green leucocyanides, vanadium(V)-iron(III) oxalate and monochloroacetic acid, however all of these undergo dark reactions, that is, they react in the absence of light. This is undesirable since it will have to be corrected for. Organic actinometers like butyrophenone or piperylene are analysed by gas chromatography. Other actinometers are more specific in terms of the range of wavelengths at which quantum yields have been determined. Reinecke’s salt K [Cr(NH3)2(NCS)4] reacts in the near-UV region although it is thermally unstable cite book
last = Calvert
first = Jack G
authorlink =
coauthors = James N Pitts
title = Photochemistry
publisher = Wiley and Sons
year = 1966
location = New York
pages =
url =
doi =
id =
] [cite book
last = Taylor
first = H. A.
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Analytical methods techniques for actinometry in Analytical photochemistry and photochemical analyis
publisher = Marcel Dekker Inc
year = 1971
location = New York
pages =
url =
doi =
id =
] [cite book
last = Rabek
first = J. F.
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Experimental methods in Photochemistry and Photophysics
publisher = Wiley and Sons
year = 1982
location = Chicester
pages =
url =
doi =
id =

] . Uranyl oxalate has been used historically but is very toxic and cumbersome to analyze.

Recent investigations into nitrate photolysis [cite journal
last = Anastasio
first = Cort
authorlink =
coauthors = McGregor K.G.
title =Chemistry of fog waters in California's Central Valley: 1. In situ photoformation of hydroxyl radical and singlet molecular oxygen
journal = Atmospheric Environment
volume = 35
issue = 6
pages = 1079–1089
doi =10.1016/S1352-2310(00)00281-8
year =2001
] [cite journal
last = Chu
first = L
authorlink =
coauthors = Anastasio, C.
title = Quantum Yields of Hydroxyl Radical and Nitrogen Dioxide from the Photolysis of Nitrate on Ice
journal = Physical Chemistry A
volume = 107
issue = 45
pages = 9594–9602
doi = 10.1021/jp0349132
year = 2003
] have used 2-nitrobenzaldehyde and benzoic acid as a radical scavenger for hydroxyl radicals produced in the photolysis of hydrogen peroxide and sodium nitrate. However, they originally used ferrioxalate actinometry to calibrate the quantum yields for the hydrogen peroxide photolysis. Radical scavengers proved a viable method of measuring production of hydroxyl radical.


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  • Actinometer — Ac ti*nom e*ter, n. [Gr. ?, ?, ray + meter] (a) An instrument for measuring the direct heating power of the sun s rays. (b) An instrument for measuring the actinic effect of rays of light. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • actinometer — [ak΄tə näm′ət ər] n. 1. Physics an instrument for measuring the intensity of the sun s rays, or the actinic effect of light rays 2. Photog. EXPOSURE METER actinometric [ak΄tənō΄me′trik] adj. actinometry [ak΄tənäm′ə trē] n …   English World dictionary

  • actinometer — actinometric /ak tin oh me trik, ak teuh noh /, actinometrical, adj. actinometry, n. /ak teuh nom i teuhr/, n. a device for measuring intensity of radiation, esp. that of the sun. Cf. actinograph. [1825 35; ACTINO + METER] * * * ▪ chemistry    …   Universalium

  • actinometer — aktinometras statusas T sritis Standartizacija ir metrologija apibrėžtis Saulės ar kitų šviesos šaltinių spinduliuotės stiprio matuoklis, kurio veikimas pagrįstas fotocheminiu spinduliuotės aktyvumu. atitikmenys: angl. actinometer vok.… …   Penkiakalbis aiškinamasis metrologijos terminų žodynas

  • actinometer — aktinometras statusas T sritis fizika atitikmenys: angl. actinometer vok. Aktinometer, n rus. актинометр, m pranc. actinomètre, m …   Fizikos terminų žodynas

  • actinometer — noun Date: 1833 any of various instruments for measuring the intensity of incident radiation; especially one in which the intensity of radiation is measured by the speed of a photochemical reaction • actinometric adjective • actinometry noun …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • actinometer — noun A device used to measure the heating power of electromagnetic radiation, especially that of solar radiation See Also: actinometric, actinometry …   Wiktionary

  • Actinometer — Прибор для измерения интенсивности света; Актинометр …   Краткий толковый словарь по полиграфии

  • actinometer — ac·ti·nom·e·ter .ak tə näm ət ər n any of various instruments for measuring the intensity of incident radiation esp one in which the intensity of radiation is measured by the speed of a photochemical reaction ac·ti·no·me·tric nō me trik adj… …   Medical dictionary

  • actinometer — instrument for measuring incident radiation Scientific Instruments …   Phrontistery dictionary

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