Chemistry in Pictures: Tornado in a flask

by Alexandra Taylor
April 5, 2018


Credit: Craig Fraser

Simon Sung, a postdoc at the National University of Singapore, was evaporating toluene under a vacuum when this vortex formed. He and his labmate, Ph.D. candidate Craig Fraser, decided to record a video of the vortex. The brown color comes from a dissolved cobalt complex, which Sung intended to isolate as a solid. The pair works in an organometallic chemistry lab and uses a setup like this—which combines an inert gas and a magnetic stir bar—to prevent their chemicals from reacting with oxygen or moisture. “It is this vigorous stirring, plus some bubbles caused by evaporation, that creates this mesmerizing vortex,” Fraser explains.

Submitted by Craig Fraser

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