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Chemistry 445: Projects in Experimental Chemistry

Course Level: 
Fourth Year
Academic Year: 

Chemistry 445 is a one term, integrated laboratory course designed to illustrate the principles of modern analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry.  Students will carry out experiments over ten weeks for 8 hours per week (two 4-hour lab periods).  A mixture of discipline-specific and discipline-integrated experiments will cover many branches of chemistry.

The analytical section offers two possibilities.  A series of stand-alone experiments focusing on various analytical techniques, and the interferences and problems inherent in those techniques comprises the first option.  The effect of variation of instrument parameters on experimental results is a common theme in these experiments.  The second choice involves short projects based on the quantitative determination of analyte(s) in a sample of the student’s choice.  Gas chromatography– mass spectrometry (GC-MS), and inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) are commonly employed to conduct the analyses, however other instrumentation is available.

The inorganic section consists of experiments that demonstrate modern techniques of preparative and diagnostic inorganic chemistry.  Several inorganic and organometallic compounds are synthesized, and their reactions and properties investigated.  Some of the techniques covered include use of the glove box and Schlenk line for conducting chemistry under an inert atmosphere, potentiometric analysis, UV/Vis, IR and NMR spectroscopy as well as magnetic susceptibility measurements.

Topics and techniques covered in the organic experiments may include syringe and inert-atmosphere techniques for the handling of air-sensitive reagents; atmospheric and low-pressure catalytic hydrogenation; the use of mechanical vacuum pumps for distillation under reduced pressure; flash column chromatography; and strategies of linear and convergent synthesis. The reactions performed may include chemistry such as aromatic nitration, stereoselective hydride reduction, borane-DMS reduction, organocuprate substitution reactions, Grignard reactions, and Friedel-Crafts alkylations and acylations.  Analytical and spectroscopic methods used to identify and characterize products routinely include FT-IR, 1H and 13C NMR, GC and TLC.

Current experiments in the physical chemistry section include: the investigation of molecular structure through measurement of dipole moments; the measurement and analysis of high-resolution infrared spectra to investigate molecular symmetry and structure, and a study of fast-reaction kinetics by a temperature-jump technique.