this time, you should be working in
accordance with the "Notes on Good Research"
guidelines, and are ready to fine tune and hone your research skills,
moving to the next level of becoming an independent, efficient
not fall into the various
traps that slow lab work! These
common places where researchers tend to delay, when it isn't necessary
- Drying an
solution with a drying agent -
MgSO4 takes less than five min. to work -
10min at the outside. Magnetically stirring the drying agent
speeds its time to just 2-3min.
- Drying on the vacuum
line - removing
traces of solvent on full vacuum can require widely varying times,
depending on the nature of the compound (oil vs. crystalline solid) and
the solvent being removed (ether very fast, DMF extremely slow).
Removing ether from an oil takes 2-3hrs. much less if you tilt the
flask occasionally to "roll" the oil around, exposing fresh surfaces to
- Hint from experience: If
anticipate extended vacuum time, as in a very thick oil and/or
high-boiling solvent being removed, try using the Kugelrohr, with its
ability to gently roll the oil (or solid) around under gentle heat;
this can cut the time by 75%.
Recrystallization - once your super-saturated
solution is ready, allow
it to cool to
r.t., then place it in the refrigerator for 1-2hrs. That's
it. Such operations seldom need to stall in the fridge overnight,
and it's easy to forget about things in there.
This will increase your productivity,
involvement, and enjoyment of the research experience, since there will
be very little "down time".
- If you are doing the
same reaction on several substrates, doing them one at a time is the
- It also wastes
glassware - why dirty 3-4 syringes to dispense n-BuLi, when
you can use one to dispense it into 3-4 flasks?
you do this, use a permanent
marker to write, on each reaction flask, the notebook page number
corresponding to the experiment.
- THIS IS MANDATORY!! If you
do this, I guarantee that
you'll get the reactions mixed up, and you'll spend loads of time doing
analyses to figure out which is which!
sure your notebook is prepared appropriately for each reaction!
- Do not yield to the temptation
on this - doing so will add to the opportunities to screw up which
flask contains which reaction.
awhile, you should then start doing simultaneous reactions which are
not related to each other
- This obviously requires even greater
care, and adherence to the guidelines listed above.
3. Use the chemical literature!
Whether you run into
trouble with an ongoing reaction, or just need to
find out whether a compound you made is new or not, you need to develop
that the Department
has SciFinder Scholar®, finding specific data in the
literature is trivial.
If you have yet to experience
SciFinder, PLEASE let me know - we'll do a quick demo early in the
semester. It's so easy that documentation/instructions are
- You can search for specific compounds
or general research topics
The literature "hits" provide detailed
information about the articles, so if EIU doesn't have the resource, it
can be ordered easily via Interlibrary Loan.
entire ACS archival database.
- This means that we can access every ACS
journal published, back to vol. 1, issue 1.
very good selection of other chemistry journals.
Our group (i.e.,
I) has access to any journal
on UIUC's electronic journals list.
Just go to the UIUC
journals list, and if the reference you seek is there, just bring
me the citation, and I'll have it for you within an hour. [Note: If you have trouble with the
link to the journal list, go to the Chemistry Library link,
and click on the "electronic journals" link.]
We also have access to ISI's Web of
Science - see THB
forget the link
library covering the literature of organic chemistry!
is a database of most chemistry
literature articles, searchable by topic, chemical name, and several
other parameters. It gives a linked list of every reference in
every paper, AND a list of all papers which cited the paper you
found. Very handy!