#RealTimeChem Week 2016 Awards – Friday

Friday – 4th November

Welcome to the 4th #RealTimeChem Week awards!

 

Just like previous years, I will be offering awards for the best tweets during #RealTimeChem Week. The format has, again, changed a little due to circumstances and budget. This year, after noting that tweets are often quite slim on the weekend portion of #RealTimeChem week, I’ve decided to focus the awards on the 5 days of the working week, with The Great #RealTimeChem Cook off taking up the weekend slot.

 

There are still three different awards available: Ag, Au and Pt. 10 awards will be given each of the five days (6 Ag, 3 Au, 1 Pt). Those winning the coveted Platinum award (5 total) will each win a prize, which is, as usual, a #RealTimeChem mug with this year’s snazzy logo emblazoned on it.

 

So without further ado, onto the 2016 awards.

 

friday

Friday! This is it folks, the last working day of the week and also the last day of the awards for this year. It’s been great fun as usual. Here’s the my favourite tweets of the day.

 

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Alyssa’s student grow some crystals. Despite the frustration, I’m sure they had some fun!

These are some eager looking young chemists. They look happy to wait Chris!

Alex proves that nobody can resist the cuteness of tiny glassware. Awww look at it!

Rachel gets to have fun with some dust? I hope you found gold in there for your trouble!

Connie’s chemistry is sitting pretty in pink and bubbling away quite merrily 🙂

Some old school chemistry from Lab Daily while thinking about refreshment. Not sure I’d drink that Mountain Dew…

goldaward

 

Danny shows that sometimes all it takes is a little spin and you’re on your way!

Laura revisits some old porphyrin friends in a series of popular tweets, but this video was my favourite. It’s soooo shiny!

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha….Terrible. But so good from the Neurotic Chemist.

plataward

Friday’s overall winner was:

Lab accidents are part and parcel of the risks of experimental chemistry, but it seems that even physical chemists can have them too! Darwin’s strangely beautiful mangle caused by some data in the wrong column was the most popular tweet of the whole day and pretty darn weird/cool lookin’.

Darwin, you win a much coveted #RealTimeChem week mug. I hope that data straightened out right in the end:

mug-preview

Last one!

 

Congratulations to all winners and thanks to everyone for taking part in #RealTimeChem week! The Great #RealTimeChem Cook Off took place this weekend and had plenty of tasty entries. The winners for that will be up later in the week.

 

-Doctor Galactic-

 

 

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#RealTimeChem Week 2016 Awards – Thursday

Thursday – 3rd November

Welcome to the 4th #RealTimeChem Week awards!

 

Just like previous years, I will be offering awards for the best tweets during #RealTimeChem Week. The format has, again, changed a little due to circumstances and budget. This year, after noting that tweets are often quite slim on the weekend portion of #RealTimeChem week, I’ve decided to focus the awards on the 5 days of the working week, with The Great #RealTimeChem Cook off taking up the weekend slot.

 

There are still three different awards available: Ag, Au and Pt. 10 awards will be given each of the five days (6 Ag, 3 Au, 1 Pt). Those winning the coveted Platinum award (5 total) will each win a prize, which is, as usual, a #RealTimeChem mug with this year’s snazzy logo emblazoned on it.

 

So without further ado, onto the 2016 awards.

 

thursday

Thursday. Thor’s day. Thou shall go hit thine chemistry with a hammer…or something. Another busy #RealTimeChem day this one with some excellent tweets. Decisions, decisions decisions. Here’s the my favourite tweets of the day.

 

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Lab Daily shows off the best thing about NMR tubes: customizing your caps! There’s nothing better than knowing your tubes are happy to see you right?

I don’t think there is a single chemist that doesn’t see a word and misread as a chemistry term instead as Izzy demonstrates. Far too easy indeed. However, you can never have too much chemistry!

In keeping with yesterdays bringing of folks to the yard/lab, Mark is using alluring ketyl radicals. They certainly are blue.

Chemistry isn’t all pretty colours. Sometimes you have to sit there and pump colourless liquids through a chromatography machine. All day. We’re with you Renée, we’re with you.

More pretty colours from Kalamazoo Chemistry, this time involving quantum dots.

@CompoundChem’s very own Andy Bruning gets in on the act with a fun looking demo that shows off diffusion.

 

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Let’s be honest, this year fluorescence has been insanely popular and Thursday was no different. Christine made her first ever fluorescent product, just in time for #RealTimeChem Week. That’s organisation.

You know that thing I mentioned above. Well…case in point. I think Brian really laid down the gauntlet this year (see special mention below this post) and Andy totally picked it up, with interesting results!

Go home #chemquackers, you’re drunk. The folks at Chemistry: A European Journal sure are giving that rubber duck a good time. Wait, maybe they are really all rubber ducks *dramatic music*.

plataward

 

Thursday’s overall winner was:

Speaking of music, Emily Rose just squeaks the victory here. I think its the combination of a portrait that resonates with so many of us and lyrics from R.E.M. That awful moment when it all goes horribly wrong. A lot of these moments involve rotary evaporators…. damn them, damn them all to hell. Sing it with me now:

 

Emily, you win a much coveted #RealTimeChem week mug. I think you need it after that:

mug-preview

Come up with another word for “shiny” folks. Suffice to say, they are nice. 

 

Congratulations to all winners and thanks to everyone for taking part in #RealTimeChem week! The final awards for Friday will be announced later today, then it’s on to The #RealTimeChem Cook Off this weekend.

 

-Doctor Galactic-

 

 

 

P.S. Special Achievement mention.

Brian Wagner has already won a Platinum Award this week, but could probably have won everyday so far! (I have a self imposed rule of not giving out two to the same person). This “fireworks” demonstration, for instance,  which Andy also tried above is spectacular and also the single most loved Tweet of the week so far (and unlikely to be beaten I reckon!). Just wanted to give an extra thank you to Brian for adding so much fun chemistry to this week.

 

 

 

 

#RealTimeChem Week 2016 Awards – Wednesday

Wednesday – 2nd November

Welcome to the 4th #RealTimeChem Week awards!

 

Just like previous years, I will be offering awards for the best tweets during #RealTimeChem Week. The format has, again, changed a little due to circumstances and budget. This year, after noting that tweets are often quite slim on the weekend portion of #RealTimeChem week, I’ve decided to focus the awards on the 5 days of the working week, with The Great #RealTimeChem Cook off taking up the weekend slot.

 

There are still three different awards available: Ag, Au and Pt. 10 awards will be given each of the five days (6 Ag, 3 Au, 1 Pt). Those winning the coveted Platinum award (5 total) will each win a prize, which is, as usual, a #RealTimeChem mug with this year’s snazzy logo emblazoned on it.

 

So without further ado, onto the 2016 awards.

 

keep-calm-its-already-wednesday

Wednesday. #RealTimeChem week is always busiest in the middle and this year has been no exception. Insert clever witticisms, etc etc…I’m getting behind on these Awards posts, so on with business! Favourite tweets of the day below!

 

silveraward

 

 

Jess looks pretty happy with her milkshake. I don’t know what her plans might be with all those German exchange students that have turned up in her lab, but damn right, her chemistry is better than yours.

Harrison was sleepy by the end of Wednesday and rightly so, a hard day of #RealTimeChem-ing right here.

 

 

Nadine shares all the important facts about that most terrible of “chemicals” dihydrogen monoxide. Lock up your kids! This is real wrath of God stuff. Cats and Dogs living together. Mass hysteria. You know the chemophobia drill right?

Dreamygirl brings lots of love to her colourful chemistry!

Kristina gets down to business with some sample prep.

Another day, another tweet about coffee. This is chemistry. This time Berivan gets curious about her “natural” coffee. Nice analysis work!

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Andryj might be waiting for some good results, but he sure as heck can draw in the meantime!

There’s nothing more pleasing than getting pure product like Christine here and looking like tinsel is a massive bonus!

Brian could probably win *all* the prizes this week. Fluorescence is so darn pretty and such fun experiments when taking your kid to work!

 

 

plataward

 

Wednesday’s overall winner was:

This simple, but great looking video demo of Soxhlet apparatus from Shira was one of the most popular tweets of the day. It’s great seeing chemistry in action and this is about as loved as beet extract has ever been.

Shira, you win a much coveted #RealTimeChem week mug:

mug-preview

Super shiny.

 

Congratulations to all winners and thanks to everyone for taking part in #RealTimeChem week! Thursday and Friday’s award winners will be announced tomorrow.

 

-Doctor Galactic-

 

 

 

 

 

#RealTimeChem Week 2016 Awards – Tuesday

Tuesday – 1st November

Welcome to the 4th #RealTimeChem Week awards!

 

Just like previous years, I will be offering awards for the best tweets during #RealTimeChem Week. The format has, again, changed a little due to circumstances and budget. This year, after noting that tweets are often quite slim on the weekend portion of #RealTimeChem week, I’ve decided to focus the awards on the 5 days of the working week, with The Great #RealTimeChem Cook off taking up the weekend slot.

 

There are still three different awards available: Ag, Au and Pt. 10 awards will be given each of the five days (6 Ag, 3 Au, 1 Pt). Those winning the coveted Platinum award (5 total) will each win a prize, which is, as usual, a #RealTimeChem mug with this year’s snazzy logo emblazoned on it.

 

So without further ado, onto the 2016 awards.

keep-calm-its-terrific-tuesday

 

Tuesday. Pinch-punch first of the month. Day 2 of #RealTimeChem week moves into November with a much less spooky day of chemistry (unless you are afraid of rubber ducks – in which case, you have been warned). Favourite tweets of the day below!

 

silveraward

Crystals are always a winner and Praveen seems to have cut his off a passing yeti. Or he found them at Donald Trump’s barber. See, I do topical analysis.

David’s stylish shot of “purple” looks great. He also made “green” later. Sequels are never as good as the original. Unless it’s the Empire Strikes Back. Obviously.

Chistine shares the best thing about yellow compounds: easy columns. It’s the little things that matter in chemistry sometimes and this visually pleasing column makes us organic chemists all feel so content with the happy-happy.

Loving the enthusiasm shown in this tweet from Anne, new chemists starting out on their #RealTimeChem journey. *sniff* I’ve got something in my eye.

The folks at “Chemistry: A European Journal” sure do love a good pun. Who can blame them when #chemquackers is about. This isn’t the last time our favourite rubber duck (sorry @chemjobber) will appear today.

I bet Aaron didn’t think his hangover would lead to #RealTimeChem fame did he? Well thanks to Suze, Aaron, your stylish hangover will be immortalised forevermore!  Of course you only get a silver for being late though…

 

goldaward

 

 

The Nortcliffe Group shared a lot of great tweets on Tuesday. This one has to take the award though for encapsulating part of chemistry that we all know so well: the pain. Oh god, the pain. Let’s all give Edward a hug.

Nano dropping with a duck, that’s totally normal right? Fraser had a lot of fun with #chemquackers all day. Many, many tweets, but this is my favourite one.

Nadine shows us a little insight into the mind of most chemists I’ve ever known. First comes Chemistry. Second? Coffee. Sometimes these switch over. 2nd most popular tweet of the day for an inventive use of an old hot plate.

 

 

plataward

 

Tuesday’s overall, most popular tweet, and winner was:

Susan! If the previous tweet by Nadine said something about chemist’s priorities (at least in choice of beverage), I think this tells us something about chemist’s personalities. The most popular tweet of the day was a pun combining two coinciding themed weeks. Good old “Polar” bears. Of course, only chemists could find this hilarious. I love you chemists.

Susan, you win a much coveted #RealTimeChem week mug:

mug-preview

Super shiny.

 

Congratulations to all winners and thanks to everyone for taking part in #RealTimeChem week so far! Wednesday’s award winners will be announced tomorrow.

 

-Doctor Galactic-

 

 

 

 

 

#RealTimeChem Week 2016 – FAQ

rtc-week-2016

Hello everybody,

It’s almost that time again, time for #RealTimeChem Week! For those not in the know, #RealTimeChem Week is a 7 day event to help raise awareness of the #RealTimeChem chemistry community on Twitter and encourage as many chemists to tweet about their chemistry as possible. During the week various events, competitions and prizes are on offer, just to make it all the more fun and exciting.

If you are completely new and want to know more about #RealTimeChem in general, then following this link to the regular FAQ, where you can learn all about the project and the community.

If you don’t use #RealTimeChem all that regularly, this is the week to give it a go. Why not take some time during #RealTimeChem to share some chemistry and connect to other chemists in the world and have some fun while you’re at it?

 

When is it?

31st October-6th November. It runs all day for all 7 days.

 

How do I take part again?

Just tweet about chemistry using the hashtag #RealTimeChem. Simple as that.

 

So whats going on during this years event?

This year has seen the proposed addition of four brand new elements to the periodic table: nihonium, moscovium, tennessine and oganesson (due to be ratified in November). And with these additions the periodic table is now full. Row 7 is done folks! Such a big change doesn’t happen all that often and it’s been just one of a number of big changes that have occurred, and not just in chemistry, in chemistry during 2016.

From a personal perspective, I became a father for the first time this year and while asking about the community for ideas for #RealTimeChem Week this year, a theme that resonated with me was a suggestion from @nadineborduas:

As such, this year’s overall event theme is “New Elements in Chemistry” i.e. #NewElemChem – but this is not just about the periodic table’s new additions, it’s all about you. What new elements have been introduced in your life as a chemist or to your chemistry this year? Perhaps you’ve just started your life as a chemist? Maybe you’ve made some new, ground breaking discoveries? Had to learn new skills? Got new equipment or glass ware?  All the new things.

Of course the event isn’t limited to the theme, but this is just a few suggestions to think upon and will also be the subject of all #RealTimeChem Blog Carnival posts (more on that below).

 

#RealTimeChem Week Advert

Below you can find some banners to help you share the word about #RealTimeChem Week 2016. Designed again by the awesome Andy Brunning of @compoundinterest (www.compoundchem.com)

rtcw-about-poster

Plus in a few different colours:

rtcw-about-poster_bluertcw-about-poster_redrtcw-about-poster_purple

#RealTimeChem Awards 2016 (31st October – 4th November)

Just like previous years, I will be offering awards for the best tweets during #RealTimeChem Week. The format has, again, changed a little due to circumstances and budget. This year, after noting that tweets are often quite slim on the weekend portion of #RealTimeChem week, I’ve decided to focus the awards on the 5 days of the working week, with The Great #RealTimeChem Cook off taking up the weekend slot.

So, all you have to do to potentially win a prize in the awards is tweet using #RealTimeChem on the Monday-Friday. There are three different awards available: Ag, Au and Pt. 10 awards will be given each of the five days (6 Ag, 3 Au, 1 Pt). Those winning the coveted Platinum award (5 total) will each win a prize, which is, as usual, a #RealTimeChem mug with this year’s snazzy logo emblazoned on it:

mug-preview

This years mug prize.

Sadly, due to severe budget restrictions this year, Gold and Silver award winners don’t get a prize unfortunately, except recognition that you are, completely awesome.

 

The Great #RealTimeChem Cook Off (5th– 6th November) 

 

It’s back! Introduced last year, The Great #RealTimeChem Cook Off celebrates the perfect combination that is chemistry and cooking.

This year’s contest is sponsored by @WileyVCH‘s society chemistry journals.* Five winners will receive a ChemPubSoc Europe package containing

A copy of What’s Cooking in Chemistry: How Leading Chemists Succeed in the Kitchen
-An exclusive #chemquackers scientist rubber duck (which you can use for all your #RealTimeChem posts!)
-Other Wiley-VCH goodies!

cpse-realtimechem-whatscooking-2016-prizes

This year’s cook off prizes

The competition only takes place on the weekend of #RealTimeChem Week. Feel free to cook something during the week, but the tweet must be shared on the weekend of November 5th-6th to count.

All you have to do to enter the competition is to tweet your culinary creation (anything cooking, baking or food related) and include #RealTimeChem #whatscooking & @ChemPubSoc_Euro at the end of your tweet. Your tweet should include a picture or video of your creation and ideally have a short description (the description can even talk about the chemistry in your cooking! It’s up to you). Alternatively, you can write/link a recipe for others to try.

Everyone who tweets a cooking-related post using these hashtags will be entered into the competition, and 5 favourites will win a prize.

Hopefully with a bit more notice this time, you’ll all have time to get some ingredients in and post a tweet. I look forward to seeing what you all come up with!


*@ChemEurJ, @ChemistrySelect, @ChemistryOpen, @ChemBioChem, @ChemCatChem, @ChemMedChem@ChemElectroChem, @ChemPhysChem, @ChemPlusChem, @ChemSusChem,@ChemPhotoChem, @EurJIC, and Eur. J. Org. Chem (all journals of @ChemPubSoc_Euro); @ChemAsianJ, @AsianJOrgChem, and @ChemNanoMat (all journals of the Asian Chemical Editorial Society); and @angew_chem (a journal of @GDCh_aktuell).

 

 

The #RealTimeChem Week Blog Carnival – #NewElemChem (31st October-6th November)

rtcw-new-elements

While the primary action for #RealTimeChem Week takes place on Twitter, there is also a blog carnival that runs alongside it. Chemistry bloggers are part of a thriving community and there are some excellent writers out there just waiting for readers.

Last year, #RealTimeChem Week had a “Back to the Future” theme, resulting in some fantastic posts on #OldTimeChem and #FutureTimeChem (highlights from last year are available here at SciTechConnect).

This year the theme is “New elements in chemistry” (#NewElemChem) and here’s the brief:

Write a blog post about the new chemistry in your life or the new life in your chemistry. The key is the “new” part. Our lives in chemistry are made up of many elements, both chemically and non-chemically speaking, and this is your chance to tell the community all about it. What new reactions have you run this year? Have you had fun with new chemicals? Did you learn something mind-bogglingly for the first time? Are you adapting to a new life situation that’s affecting your chemistry? Have you just started your life as a chemist? You can answer any of these questions and more. Write as little or as much as you like and share it during #RealTimeChem Week with #NewElemChem to be part of the blog carnival.

So, if you are a blogger, write a post and share it during the Week on Twitter using the hastag #NewElemChem. The carnival this year is being kindly hosted again by Elseviers SciTechConnect (thanks Katey Birtcher!). They will be looking out for this hashtag and will collect your blog post into a round up each day so they are all in one place for easy access.

Please note, if you don’t use the hashtag, then your post won’t be included in the carnival, so please make sure you remember to add it. I’ll also be retweeting these via @RealTimeChem to draw attention to them during the week. Happy writing!

 

Compound Interest competition

rtcw-chemunicate-competition

Want a graphic made based on your research? For this year’s #RealTimeChem Week, we’re once again after chemistry researchers who want to explain their research in easy-to-understand terms. To enter, all you have to do is write a piece no longer than 500 words, detailing your work and its potential applications. Note that it should be written so it’s understandable for an audience of non-scientists!

From the submitted pieces, three will be chosen to have graphics made based on them, and these graphics will then be featured alongside your written piece on the Compound Interest site during #RealTimeChem Week, which this year runs from 31 October until 6th November.

You can find details on how to enter here.

 

Other events/competitions

There is always room for more chemistry-based fun. If you would like to run an event or competition during #RealTimeChem Week or to sponsor one of the above events, then please get in touch with me via realtimechem@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to chat about the possibilities.

 

-Doctor Galactic-

 

 

  

It’s #Time4Chem

Hello everybody,

First off, apologies for the lack of updates recently. I’ve been rather busy so far this year both at work and at home so haven’t had the time to do much on the blog. I’m hoping to relaunch the major features like #RealTimeChemInFocus soon.

In the meantime, it’s no secret that I work for the Royal Society of Chemistry as a publishing editor. Generally, I’ve kept #RealTimeChem and the RSC apart, but this year I’ll be making a bit of an exception.

175years

The RSC is the world’s oldest chemical society and is celebrating is 175th anniversary in 2016. As such, it’s going all out this year to recognise it’s history and the chemical community.

It’s hoping that everyone will take some time this year to dedicate 175 minutes to chemistry and then share your story with the rest of the community. Obviously, I know a lot of your spend near 24/7 dedicating yourself to chemistry, but this is a good opportunity to try something different that you may not have considered before.

How does this link into #RealTimeChem and social media? Well, you can share your stories via the dedicated hashtag #Time4Chem, which I’ll be keeping an eye out for this year too.

I’d greatly encourage everyone in the #RealTimeChem community to have some fun with this if you have the time this year. It’s only 175 mins (that’s, like, less than 3 hours) The possibilities of what you can do for your 175 minutes are pretty much endless, but here’s a few suggestions:

  • Take part in some education outreach – a lot of Universities have outreach departments
  • Start a chemistry podcast/youtube channel – chat about chemistry, show off some reactions or chemistry concepts, have some fun.
  • Spend some time editing wikipedia – chemistry articles can always be updated and your knowledge may be just what the world’s biggest free encyclopedia needs.
  • Start a chemistry blog – enjoy writing? Enjoy chemistry? Why not combine both together?
  • Contribute to ChemSpider Synthetic Pages (http://cssp.chemspider.com/)

 

There are many more examples on the RSC website:

http://www.rsc.org/about-us/our-history/175-anniversary/

Just don’t forget to let the RSC know by keeping them up-to-date with #Time4Chem.

Now in particular is a great time to start, as this week is the anniversary week and sees the start of the RSC’s 175 faces of Chemistry exhibition at Burlington House in London – so why not spend some of your 175 minutes celebrating diversity in science? It runs from 22nd February to 4th March.

More information at the link:

http://www.rsc.org/diversity/175-faces/

http://www.rsc.org/events/detail/21557/175-faces-of-chemistry-exhibition

 

Ciao for now,

-Doctor Galactic and The Labcoat Cowboy-

Crystals are a girl chemist’s best friend

My name is Anna Ahveninen. Although that surname can try to convince you otherwise, I’m half a year into my PhD at the University of Melbourne, in Australia. The broad scope of my project is the synthesis of metallosupramolecules and their characterization by X-ray crystallography. The finer details? Well, that’s taking a while to figure out.

 

I’ve only been at the University of Melbourne for as long as I have been working on my PhD. I moved to the Abrahams-Robson group from Monash University, where I completed my undergraduate degree with honours. Having fallen in love with transition metal chemistry — the beautiful coloured complexes and their satisfyingly sparkly crystals — and crystallography in my honours year, the transition to my current project was not a difficult one. Kickstarting it has definitely been troublesome, however. In the past six months, I have been chasing a discrete assembly without a grain of success. The last two months saw a change in my focus from discrete assemblies to coordination polymers (with the same coordination motif), and just a few short weeks ago, I finally hit the jackpot. A red, sparkling, reproducible jackpot.

Since then, I have been working away at trying to turn that result into more results, hoping that it will propagate into a project and grow, with care and love and hard work, into a thesis. The following is a sample of how I am going about that.

Monday

Mondays are pretty exciting for someone working on a crystallography project. Mondays mean that my reactions will all have had at least two extra days to crystallise! I pick up my rack of vials and carry it with a flourish over to the microscope to check for clean edges and tell-tale sparkling. Since we do not have a microscope with a camera in-built, macroscopic pictures of my sparklers will have to satisfy you (Fig. 1).

Figure 1: Vials full of sparkly crystals, ripe for the X-ray diffractometer.

Figure 1: Vials full of sparkly crystals, ripe for the X-ray diffractometer.

I set about my run-of-the-mill inorganicky business until my group’s favourite time of the day: tea time. Although we have no formal group meetings, we meet with our supervisors every day around 4 pm for tea. It gives us the opportunity to ask questions of our supervisors and bring new results to their attention, while also being a nice break and group bonding activity. The group bonding consists of doing the quiz in the Herald Sun and a game involving Fred Basset. Fred is a little tradition that goes far back enough in the Abrahams-Robson group that its origins are unclear. In this game, one of our group members describes the comic strip (Fig. 2). Our job is then to guess what Fred says in the last frame. Weirder than weird to an outsider, this tradition absolutely grows on you, and has become akin to a religious duty in our group.

Figure 2: Fred Basset in his natural habitat. Fred's home is at gocomics.

Figure 2: Fred Basset in his natural habitat. Fred’s home is at gocomics.

My afternoon comes with the pleasant surprise of overnight time on the X-ray diffractometer. One of our postdocs does all of the diffractometer time allocation to ensure that the time is divided fairly, so it always seems to spring up on me.

The X-ray diffractometer (Fig. 3) has to be my favourite instrument. I get a serious thrill when sorting through crystals on a glass slide under the microscope, picking the one I think looks the most promising, mounting it on the diffractometer, centering it and then shining some X-rays on it. The excitement builds at the initial blank frame, and a few seconds later – boom! Diffraction (Fig. 4)! As is common in science, the usual result is very little diffraction, streaky diffraction, or no diffraction at all. It’s all worth it, though, when that first frame flashes up and the spots are well-defined and single and strong and beautiful.

Figure 3: The University of Melbourne X-ray diffractometer.

Figure 3: The University of Melbourne X-ray diffractometer.

Figure 4: A frame from one of my X-ray diffraction data collections.

Figure 4: A frame from one of my X-ray diffraction data collections.

 

Tuesday

The morning begins with a coffee with my group mates, followed by the weekly inorganic chemistry seminar. This week, it is a group member’s colloquium, wherein he has chosen a field of chemistry outside his project to give a talk on. These talks are very interesting to listen to and are usually very educational, both for the speaker and the audience. The rest of the day is spent trying to make sense of my X-ray diffraction data, since I have had the misfortune to be working with high-symmetry cubic systems with a high degree of disorder.

Late in the afternoon, I stop bashing my head against the crystallography wall and take some of my amorphous and microcrystalline samples to the IR spectrometer in the teaching labs. IR spectrometry is free and easy; it helps give me an idea of whether a reaction that doesn’t want to grow nice crystals is worth pursuing.

Wednesday

Wednesday morning is when I would usually demonstrate for my first year class, but since there are no first year practicals running this week, I get a free morning. I spend my time marking reports from the previous experiment. I turn my attention to the lab afterward, but discover that frantic preparation for powder samples for the Australian Synchrotron from two weeks prior has left my stash of 3 mL plastic syringes precariously low. I get a reaction or two in, and am then forced to find something else to do while I wait for the chemistry store to fill my order.

Mid-afternoon, I meet with my supervisor for a long talk regarding my red, sparkling, reproducible jackpot and where we can take my project from here. An hour of musing, brainstorming and me frantically scribbling down notes later, we break for tea. My spirits are elevated and the future of chemistry is looking good.

Thursday

To my annoyance, I discover that the delivery of 3 mL plastic syringes is excruciatingly slow. Crippled into inability to do my reactions, I spend part of my day backing up my lab notebook. A good method that I learnt from the postdoc in my honours year, is to take pictures of your notebook pages and create an index in Excel to correspond to compound syntheses found on particular pages.

Leafing through my notebook leads to a decision to create a spreadsheet to track the variables of reactions I have been doing. I feel more secure having it available at a glance and organised, as I swear I can feel the details slipping out of my brain. I also spend some time catching up on my journal RSS feed, which I admittedly ignore in favour of doing lab work much more often than I should.

Friday

With the delivery of my plastic syringes, I can get into some serious synthesis action. My ligand, when deprotonated, tends to oxidise easily in air. To combat this, I bubble nitrogen gas through all three layers to drive out as much air as possible before layering my ligand with a layer containing a base, a metal salt and a counter-ion (Figure 5). The third vial contains a buffer layer between the two. I run two reactions parallel, as this saves me time in the long run.

Figure 5: How metallosupramolecular chemists do air-sensitive chemistry.

Figure 5: How metallosupramolecular chemists do air-sensitive chemistry.

In case you are curious, the 3 mL syringes come in during layering. I layer my reactions in the reverse order, starting with the least dense layer. Then, I inject the buffer layer below the initial solution, and finally, the densest layer. The volume of the syringes is important since I don’t like to do more than one injection per layer: for one, the suba seal becomes compromised quicker, and for another, it is easier to mess up the layering with more than one injection. Syringes with a too-high volume are also unwieldy and tend to draw in too much gas. When layered well, the reactions can look pretty spectacular (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Either layered reactions or bottled sunrise.

Figure 6: Either layered reactions or bottled sunrise.

My day, and week, draws to a close with drinks, snacks and a game of Cards Against Humanity with my group mates. What better way to end a week of brain-intensive work than a really inappropriate game with a bunch of really awesome people? It’s evenings like these that remind you that life – and science – are awesome.

Author biography

AnnaBioAnna Ahveninen was born and raised in Finland. She completed her Bachelor of Science with Honours in 2014 at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. She is currently a PhD student under the supervision of Assoc. Prof. Brendan Abrahams at the University of Melbourne. She tweets under the handle @Lady_Beaker and blogs on Chemistry Intersection.


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