Update #3: Crystallizing the Complexes

Recently, I have spent a significant amount of time attempting to crystallize my complexes.  This is an important step because crystals are a purer form of the complex and will allow us to analyze the structure and verify that we have synthesized the desired complex.  However, I have only been able to get crystals of one out of my three complexes so far.  The technique I am currently using involves liquid diffusion.  The complex is dissolved in a solvent, then slowly layered on top of a denser solvent in which the complex is not very soluble.  The idea is that as the top layer slowly diffuses into the bottom layer, the complex will become less soluble and come out of solution in crystals.

[Read more…]

Update #2: New Complexes and Electrochemical Analysis

To recap, I am attempting to synthesize and test transition metal complexes which can act as electrocatalysts that reduce protons.  This reduction of protons generates hydrogen gas, which is a clean source of energy.

[Read more…]

Update #1: Synthesizing a Ligand Molecule

In this project, I will be attempting to synthesize particular ligand molecules and complex them with a transition metal.  Ideally, these complexes will act as electrocatalysts that aid in the reaction that reduces protons to hydrogen gas.  Hydrogen gas is a clean-burning fuel, so finding more efficient ways to produce hydrogen could prove crucial in a future where clean energy will be a necessity.

[Read more…]

POST #3: Theory Behind the Initial Solution

So far I have discussed most of the practical knowledge that a crystallographer needs, but I have not mentioned much of the theory. Crystallography requires the careful analysis of thousands of reflections by a computer, but at one point, it was all done by hand. The math behind the initial solutions is very tedious, but in short, it relies on Fourier transforms. Fourier transforms are used to break complicated oscillations into only sines and cosines. A Fourier transform lets us look at the repeating patterns of reflections (similar to a harmonic function) and determine what the unit cell looks like, as well as the arrangement of its contents.

[Read more…]