Rob McClain (University of Wisconsin – Madison, USA)
It is essential for undergraduate chemistry students to understand chemical separations because of their extensive use in modern research, development, and testing laboratories. In the instrumental teaching laboratory, chemical separations are often covered through experiments using gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, and electrophoresis instrumentation. Although it is valuable for students to get hands on experience with these instruments, it can also be difficult for students to get a conceptual understanding of the separations mechanism when using only instrumental based experiments. In this talk, I will describe laboratory activities, which use dyes as analytes, to introduce students to reverse phase liquid chromatography, gel permeation, thin layer chromatography, gel electrophoresis and capillary electrophoresis in a “hands-on” and visually colorful way. In the activities described, students construct their own separations platforms using inexpensive laboratory supplies and are able to watch the separations using their own eyes as the detector.