Synthesis, Spectroscopy, Chromatography

This activity is directed at year 12 students, although gifted and talented year 11 students have benefitted in the past.

Students work in pairs to convert benzophenone into diphenylmethanol using sodium borohydride reduction. This transformation illustrates a type of reaction covered at A-level, and gives students experience of magnetically stirred reactions, 4-figure balances, fumehoods, and UV-visualised TLC as a method of monitoring reactions.

Each student also records their own infra-red spectra of reactant ketone and product alcohol. This shows the transformation from double-bonded C=O to single-bonded C-O in the shift to lower frequency and the growth of the new OH vibration at high frequency.

These changes underline the basis of where vibrations appear in the IR spectrum. Students then tour around NMR, X-ray diffraction and Mass Spectrometry facilities. They use their samples as subjects where practicable before a brief round-up talk and careers talk if desired. 

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