Data, Thou Art A Fickle Mistress

Since my last blog, I have run A LOT of fluorescence scans on silica coated silver nanoparticles. It’s safe to say that my daily emotions are directly linked to the outcomes and efficiency of these scans. One day I could successfully analyze fluorescence enhancement ratios for up to 20 nanoparticles and another day I could get as little as 2. For instance, I severely misaligned the laser on accident one day and it took us over an hour to fix the problem! Sometimes I feel like even the laser hates Mondays…But, alas, I am making progress on compiling data.

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Reading and Glass Slide Preparation Control Experiment

When I first found out that I would be doing physical chemistry research over the summer, I had no idea how much actual reading was involved. Out of the three weeks that I’ve been here, I would say that about 75% of the time I was scanning through stacks on stacks of articles and googling words that stumped me. This is not necessarily a negative thing because I have learned so much background information on my project that has given me a better appreciation of the nuances involved in photovoltaic research. However, if I have to read the words localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR), quantum yield, radiative decay rate, or extinction spectra again anytime soon I might go crazy. The fact that we digest so much literature in the Wustholz lab is not because we have nothing important to do but because we currently only have 1 laser and confocal microscope to split between five students. Unlike regular organic and synthesis labs where multiple people can be doing separate tasks beneath their individual hoods, our lab’s main work involves using the laser for extended periods of time. Thus, if we aren’t on the “scope” then we are either working up data from scans or wading through the vast sea of research papers.

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