Formerly the sparkand absorption-spectra were the sole methods available; a third method was introduced by Crookes, who submitted the oxides, or preferably the basic sulphates, to the action of a negative electric discharge in vacuo, and investigated the phosphorescence induced spectroscopically.
Examination of the absorption spectra of coloured compounds shows that certain groupings displace the absorption bands in one direction, and other groupings in the other.
He has also shown that the nitrophenols yield, in addition to the colourless true nitrophenol ethers, an isomeric series of coloured unstable quinonoid aci-ethers, which have practically the same colour and yield the same absorption spectra as the coloured metallic salts.
A series of equivalent solutions all containing the same coloured ion have absorption spectra which, when photographed, show identical absorption bands of equal intensity.
Such spectra seem to be characteristic of complex molecular structure, as they appear when compounds are raised to incandescence without decomposition, or when we examine the absorption spectra of vapours such as iodine and bromine and other cases where we know that the molecule consists of more than one atom.