Temitayo Falola, a master’s candidate at Illinois State University in the lab of Christopher Hamaker, was attempting to synthesize a diisopropylamine-substituted Schiff base to use as a chelating agent; he planned to study the agent’s ability to bind heavy metals such as copper, vanadium, and mercury in water as a means of remediating contamination. Unexpectedly, the fine particles of the product became glued to the paper after filtration. “Due to the presence of acetonitrile and o-vanillin, a side reaction might have produced acrylonitrile and/or a trace of its polymer—a good adhesive!” Falola explains. This image reminds him to appreciate the small details in his work. “The ability to have a thorough look at each and every thing that takes place in the laboratory is one of the important traits a chemist should have,” he says.
Submitted by Temitayo Falola
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