Week 5: Generation of Hydrogen

In my previous post, I touched on the efficiency of the iron catalyst I have been studying, but I also mentioned that I need to ensure that my catalyst was actually generating hydrogen. This week, I introduced my complex into an environment containing a sacrificial donor of electrons (triethylamine), a proton source (water), a chromophore (fluorescein), and a solvent (ethanol).  Six different test tubes were prepared.  They were then illuminated in a controlled environment.  This experiment was purely used to see if any hydrogen was generated at all.  So, instead of taking many measurements of hydrogen gas in the test tube every few hours, which can be useful to measure the robustness of a catalyst as well as measure reaction rates, I took one after 24 hours of illumination.  The experiment was successful; I observed hydrogen generation from each test tube by collecting samples and analyzing them via gas chromatography.  This proves that my catalyst is, in fact, producing hydrogen and at an efficient rate.  However, the catalyst I used was impure, and the turnover number (moles of hydrogen per mole of catalyst) was relatively low.  The next step is finding ways to ensure crystallization of my catalyst after synthesis.  While I have made strides in increasing my ligand yield, it is still less than half of what I should be synthesizing.