Week 5: July 29th – August 2nd

I can’t believe how time flies, and it is already the fifth week of the summer research. I have been having a ton of fun in the lab so far. I forgot to mention in last week’s blog post that I started running a new reaction with 1,4-benzoquinone. Prior this summer, another student worked in the lab with methyl-p-benzoquinone, and he found out an optimized reaction condition for the cyclization reaction. I applied the same condition for my reaction with 1,4-benzoquinone to see how the reaction will go. To my disappointment, the reaction rarely proceeded. When I ran any organic reaction, I will monitor its reaction process with GC-MS, abbreviation for gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. This piece of instruments consists of two parts: the gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. Only one microliter of the reaction mixture is needed for the analysis. As soon as it is being injected into the machine, the high temperature will vaporize the reaction mixture. Based on the difference of the molecule’s affinity with the column inside the machine, the molecules will go through the column using a varied amount of time. Therefore, the job of the gas chromatography is to separate the molecules. The mass spectrometry measures the mass-to-charge ratio of the molecules after it goes out of the gas chromatography. It can give information about the molecular mass of the molecule and some fragmentations of the molecule, which can be used as a way of having a general idea of what molecules are possibly present in the mixture. It seems that I went on a little bit too much on GC-MS. The main point here is that I used GCMS to elucidate the reaction result and found out that under the “optimized reaction condition” the yield of the product is very low. I was skeptical about the reaction condition and tried to reproduce the reaction with methyl-benzoquinone. The result will be included in next week’s blog post