Figuring out what works best

The problem with science is that you never get it right the first time or the second time or even the hundredth time. The key is to always keep chugging along with ideas and plans and hoping for the best, while expecting the worst. That pretty much sums up all our work this summer. We’ve gone through numerous designs for the pulley and finally settled on a quite simplistic setup that should make it very simple for now. We’ve also replaced the cross plates where our screens were attached. There were just numerous issues that now seem so clear, yet three weeks ago I probably couldn’t have imagined them.

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Long time, no see!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to update my progress due to some unforeseen issues.  On the 19th of June, William and Mary mistakenly cut the power to the Integrated Science Center as a part of a scheduled campus-wide power outage.  When the power was reintroduced to the buildings, the instruments, which previously were on, turned back on immediately and improperly.  This blew both power supplies to the mass spectrometer, which can only be replaced by an outside repairperson.  During the three week period of waiting for him to find replacement parts and travel from North Carolina to Williamsburg, I did a lot of research for our kinetic method projects, namely condensing information about experimentally and theoretically retrieved proton affinity values for glycine.  In addition, we worked on our flowing afterglow mass spectrometer, which needed some plumbing adjustments and a change to the software before being able to produce scans.

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Another day, another test…

Time might be winding down, but there is still much to be done, so much so that late-night chemistry is now a thing. As usual, my last week comprised mostly of running electrochemistry tests on my primary complex, obtaining data that is frustratingly close to being publishable. I have solved the decomposition issue, but the major obstacle now is a poor connection between the electrode leads and the clips connecting the wires to the potentiostat. Sometimes, the instrument does not register that the electrodes are hooked up, resulting in a flatline CV of the reference electrode instead of a useful CV. Every time electricity runs through the complex after acid addition, it seems to decompose, meaning that after each experiment, I am left with only a couple of CV points rather than four or five due to the poor connection. Hopefully this becomes a less recurring theme because we cleaned the electrode leads on Friday, which should improve the connection. Work on the other ligand/complex pairs varies between crystallization attempts, synthesis of either the ligand or complex, or electrochemistry tests. Based on the early results of a few complexes, our paper topic might revolve around a different characteristic of the complexes than we previously thought, which is promising and exciting. This summer has been an enjoyable one, and hopefully what I acquire now I can apply in the future.