Wrap Up

This last week was eventful in that a few things were discovered about my project. One ligand variation yielded a proton NMR very similar to a starting material, and this led Dr. McNamara and I to conclude the ligand never synthesized. Because of this, I complexed this particular starting material with iron to see if I indeed had a failed synthesis. In addition to this, the primary ligand variation I ran electrochemistry tests on acted differently in a glove bag that was designed to create an air-free environment. I am not sure yet what this means for the reactivity, but the best part of this experiment was the complex did not decompose after almost an hour and a half! Hopefully this signals good things for the research during the year.

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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.

Full Throttle

It is hard to believe that there are only three weeks left in the research session; it has gone by so fast and an incredible amount of research has been taking place. During the run of electrochemistry tests completed in the last month, my results have been surprisingly consistent. Both the acid addition test for catalytic activity and buffer test for performance in different pH measurements show interesting catalyst properties. However, the results are not quite perfect yet, which is what I have been working on. It is frustrating to get one data point that is slightly off, but I am hopeful the best is yet to come. In addition to my primary catalyst, a couple more catalysts have been added (up to six!) to the family, giving my partner and I much to do in terms of NMR and electrochemistry tests. These last few weeks are going to be filled with things to do, and I am looking forward to carrying out the work!

Electrochemistry Everywhere

Data collected from the electrochemistry studies from the last few weeks gave us interesting results on the metal ligand complexes, leading to the growth of the family. There are a variety of studies that are done using electrochemistry, one of which is changing the acid concentration the complex is tested in. The main metal complex I studied the past academic year was found to decompose after being exposed to air during this test, making it a bit difficult to conduct the study. However, this particular complex is shown to reduce hydrogen at a more positive reduction potential than the one it is based off of, supporting our hypothesis about the effects of electron donating and withdrawing groups. Currently I am conducting a study where the complex is dissolved in buffer solutions of varying pH to determine how well the complex works in different acidic conditions, particularly pH 7 since the ultimate goal is to synthesize a complex that works in water. The next goal is to obtain various electrochemistry results that give insight into the mechanism and characteristics of the catalytic ability of the complex to generate hydrogen.

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Electrocatalysts Week 1

Exciting and tiring are the two words I can use to describe the first two weeks of research. I can say that forty-hour weeks are filled with much more work than I initially believed. Despite the number of things that need to be completed, I honestly believe that the other eight people doing research in the same lab help vary the days through group lunches, lab music, and goofy conversations. I feel very fortunate to be working with such a great group of people.

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