Xiaolin Liu was looking to purify polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and found this rose. The same molecular rhythm of single and double bonds that gives such molecules useful electronic properties also imparts color. Here, the hue and pattern emerged in the bottom of a flask as Liu, a postdoc in Jeff Moore’s lab at the University of Illinois, removed the dichloromethane solvent from a sample of her compound. A literary soul, Liu thought of a line from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.” She says, “As an organic chemist, I find that chemistry is my rose.”
Submitted by Xiaolin Liu
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