Noel Paul, Clay Harris, Heather Robison, Brent Sauner (Ohio State University, USA)
Students in Chemistry 255 laboratory worked together to synthesize a series of azo dyes and were further challenged to characterize the colorimetric properties of these molecules in search of a selective anion detector for aqueous solutions. Synthetic results revealed the structural requirements most important to maintain dye water solubility. Qualitative assays on both crude and purified dyes were conducted using portable, diode-array UV-Vis spectrometers, and an attention to reproducibility among individual and group trials was critical for the identification of significant results. After several iterations, a number of intriguing candidates for further development were identified. Transforming the sophomores and juniors of the second quarter Organic Chemistry Laboratory course into a productive research group was greatly facilitated by a focused synthetic plan, an emphasis on technical skills, and an open acknowledgement of the difficulties and unpredictability of chemical research.