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Biology Pd 3/4

April 01, 2011

Sanzida Taslim

Photosynthesis Lab Write Up


Photosynthesis is the process of plants using the energy of sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide

into oxygen and high energy carbohydrates (Miller and Levine p204). It is an important process. This is because

this is how plants produce food for itself. Plants are the first trophic level in all food webs and chains. With out

the first link, none of the trophic levels would be able to survive. Also, photosynthesis creates oxygen, which

animals use to perform cellular respiration. Wavelengths of light are important for photosynthesis. White light

consists of many colors. Plants gather the suns energy with light absorbing molecules called chlorophyll.

Chlorophyll absorbs the blue and red regions of light very well. This light gives the plant energy in order to do

the first process of photosynthesis (Miller and Levine p207). Plants also use CO2 for photosynthesis. Plants use

CO2 in photosynthesis to create sugars by combining it with water, creating carbohydrates and oxygen, which is

released into the atmosphere (Miller and Levine p206).

Problems A and B:

Problem- How can we extract chlorophyll from a leaf and measure absorbance at different wavelengths?

Hypothesis: If the chlorophyll is extracted from the leaf, and absorbance of different wavelengths is measured,

then the blue wavelength will be absorbed the most.

Materials and Methods

A: In order to extract chlorophyll from a leaf, a spinach leaf was placed into a 100mL beaker. Ten

milliliters of ethanol was also added to the beaker. The beaker was then placed on a hot plate (heat set at 2), to

heat the solution. The heat was turned off when the ethanol solution turns green from the released chlorophyll.

This chlorophyll extract was poured into cuvette, about 2/3 of the way.
B. In order to compare the absorbance of three wavelengths of light by chlorophyll, the computer was

first prepared for data collection. The computer was attached to the colorimeter. A colorimeter was an

instrument that measures how much light of a particular wavelength was absorbed by a solution. In order to use

the colorimeter, it was calibrated. This was done by setting a base level for a measuring device by adjusting it to

match a dependably known standard (distilled water). After the colorimeter was calibrated, the cuvette with the

filled ethanol was placed into the colorimeter; in order to collect information on the absorbance of green light

cuvette was replaced into the colorimeter to collect information on the absorbance of red light wavelengths by

chlorophyll. The colorimeter was re-calibrated, and reset with the ethanol in order to collect information on the

absorbance of blue light wavelengths by chlorophyll.


Figure 1:

Wavelength of Light (nm) Absorbance

565 .875
635 1.627
470 1.3163

Figure 2:

The chlorophyll absorbed the red wavelength 1.627. The chlorophyll absorbed the blue wavelength

1.3163. The chlorophyll absorbed the green wavelength .875.

Problem C:

Problem: How can we test if light and carbon dioxide are needed for photosynthesis?


Materials and Methods:

In order to demonstrate the use of CO2 during photosynthesis, bromthymol blue was first put into a

beaker. Carbon dioxide was blown into the beaker to turn it yellow. The bromthymol yellow was poured evenly

into three small test tubes. In the first test tube, an elodea plant was placed. This was the positive control.

Nothing was placed into the second test tube, which was the negative control. The third test tube had an elodea

plant placed inside, and covered with tin foil. The three test tubes were exposed to light. Color changes were

observed after the three test tubes were exposed to light as long as possible. If the bromthymol changed back to

blue, it meant that oxygen was present and turned it blue.


Test Tube with Yellow Bromthymol Color Change

1- Elodea Plant Blue
2- No plant Yellow (no change)
3-Elodea plant-no light Yellow (no change)

The bromthymol yellow in the first test tube changed into blue. The Bromthymol yellow did not change in the

second test tube. The bromthymol yellow also did not change in the third test tube.


The chlorophyll absorbed the red wavelength the most. Closely after the red, the blue wavelength was absorbed

the second most. The green was absorbed the least. In a regular leaf, this is how much of each wavelength

would be absorbed. If the color was not absorbed a lot, then it was reflected. Because green, according to the

results, was absorbed the least, then it would be reflected the most. This is why we see leaves as a green color.

The green is reflected and that is what we see. Blue and red wavelengths are absorbed for energy (Miller and

Levine p207). The first test tube’s bromthymol yellow changed back to blue. This is because bromthymol

yellow will change back to blue in the presence of oxygen. The elodea plant preformed photosynthesis in the

test tube. Oxygen was released from the plant and into the bromthymol yellow, thus turning it blue. The second
test tube had no change because there was nothing to affect the amount of oxygen in the test tube. The third test

tube also did not change. Although there was a plant in it, like the first test tube, it could not perform

photosynthesis. This is because, the tin foil on the test tube disallowed light to go through, so photosynthesis

couldn’t be preformed, and oxygen was not released, so the bromthymol yellow did not change. This proves

that light is necessary in the process of photosynthesis (Miller and Levine p206). The project could have been

improved if the test tubes were under the sunlight for more time. Also, the colorimeter was not properly

calibrated the first time. If it was done properly the first time, the experiment could be improved

Works Cited

Miller, K. R., & Levine, J. S. (2003). Prentice Hall Biology. No, NJ: Prentice Hall.