Last year, chemists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus decided to bring some holiday cheer to their colleagues and let them make their own silver ornaments. Janelia’s Head of Molecular Tools and Imaging Luke Lavis gave Janelia researchers clear glass ornaments loaded with Tollens’ reagent, a silver complex created by mixing silver nitrate, potassium hydroxide, and ammonia. Tollens’ reagent takes part in a striking reaction with aldehydes that coats the inside of its container with a thin layer of silver metal. So after the Janelia researchers added glucose to the solution of Tollens’ reagent and shook the mixture, the result was these mirrored ornaments.
Submitted by Jon Grimm
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