Ehsan Fereyduni, a graduate student in Alex J. Grenning’s group at the University of Florida, had just wrapped up a long day spent purifying 2-(4-methylcyclohex-1-en-1-yl)-2-(naphthalen-2-ylmethyl)malononitrile, a synthetic intermediate en route to a polycyclic terpenoid. When he left for the day, his product was dissolved in ethyl acetate. Overnight, the solvent evaporated, leaving behind this chemical forest complete with an extensive crystalline root system. Beyond the aesthetic pleasure, a spontaneous crystallization such as this is a welcome sight because it suggests a very pure product.
Credit: Ehsan Fereyduni