Optical rotatory dispersion
is the variation in the optical rotation
of a substance with a change in the wavelength
. Optical rotatory dispersion can be used to find the absolute configuration
of metal complexes.
For example when plane polarized white light from an overhead projector is passed through a cylinder of sucrose solution a spiral rainbow is observed perpendicular to the cylinder. When white light passes through a polarizer, the extent of rotation of light depends on its wavelength. Short wavelengths are rotated more than longer wavelengths. Because the wavelength of light determines its color, the variation of color with distance through the tube is observed. This dependence of specific rotation on wavelength is called optical rotatory dispersion.