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The purpose of this site is to serve as a clearinghouse for new experiments that are suitable for the undergraduate laboratory course. Even if your experiment is published, for instance in the Journal of Chemical Education, we would encourage you to post it here also. We hope that this site will serve two purposes: to share useful new procedures with each other, and to let the enthusiastic instructor know what already has been done.
Synthesis of Acetylferrocene: The classical Friedel-Crafts acetylation of ferrocene has been updated to include silica gel TLC and column chromatography. This can easily be completed in a three-hour lab period.
Preparation of an Unsymmetrical Benzophenone: Using oxalyl choride and aluminum choride, it is possible to couple two different arenes, to make the unsymmetrical crystalline benzophenone. The product can be purified by crystallization or by column chromatography. In either case, the purification can be monitored by TLC. This experiment can be completed in a three-hour lab period
Preparation of a Solvatochromatic Dye : Et33 is an easily-prepared dye that is solvatochromatic - that is, the wavelength of maximum absorbance (visible range) is a function of the polarity of the solvent. Using this dye, for instance, it is possible to measure the ethanol content of an ethanol/water mixture. This experiment requires two three-hour lab periods
Synthesis of Vanillin: Vanillin, the main ingredient of vanilla extract, is a fragrant crystalline compound. We describe a two-step preparation of vanillin from 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde. This experimnt is a good introduction to organic synthesis, and to TLC and column chromatography. This requires one four-hour lab period, or two three-hour lab periods.
Independent Study: The Independent Study is the core of our second semester chem majors organic lab course. Each student selects a different two- or three-step synthesis from the literature, and carries it out. Don't try this unless they already have practiced TLC and column chromatography! We use five three-hour lab periods for this exercise.
Questions and comments to Douglass F. Taber