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Synthesis

Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: Snow globe synthesis

by Brianna Barbu
December 4, 2023

a rack of test tubes filled with a clear liquid. Each test tube contains a moderate amount of small white crystals that resemble snowflakes.
Credit: Chunling Lan

Chunling Lan, a graduate student at McGill University, found “snow” inside his test tubes after performing column chromatography. It’s not uncommon to see a compound start to crash out of solution it’s been purified, he says, but he found these tiny white crystals mesmerizing.

chemical structure of triazabicyclodecene.

Lan’s research focuses on cascade reactions catalyzed by triazabicyclodecene (TBD), a bicyclic organic base. TBD can play several different roles in a reaction, including hydrogen bonding and proton transfer. The reaction works at room temperature and doesn’t need a lot of solvent, so it’s relatively sustainable, says Lan. The compound that gave rise to the snowflake effect he saw was a precursor to a molecule that he intends to use to test a reaction he’s developing.

Submitted by Chunling Lan

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