SC 2014 Semilab: Preparative Chemistry of Natural Compounds, or Can Two Unpleasant Smells Make a Fruit Aroma?

by Mark Lukin

This advanced level semilab may be interesting for those who attended the Chemistry semilab ("Chemistry of Natural Compounds, or How much caffeine in coffee?") at Sigma'13 , as well as for new campers who would like to try to work in a real chemical laboratory.

Although the word "chemistry" is frequently associated with the word "poison", one can do a real chemistry without dealing with poisonous substances. That is exactly what we plan to do during our semilab. We will learn how to prepare, analyze, and characterize some interesting organic compounds (for example, the substances with fruit aroma, dyes, soap, or medications), and how to separate active compounds from natural sources. We will master basic methods (distillation, extraction, sublimation, chromatography etc.) that chemists used (and are currently using) for isolation of individual compounds from complex mixtures, and for the characterization of the substances obtained. Our newcomers may be interested to try to separate caffeine from coffee, or vanilin from vanilla, whereas our experienced campers may try more formidable tasks.

The needed reading materials will be provided in advance.

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