All it takes is a few taps on the side of this vial and—like magic—a ring of fluffy white solid suddenly appears inside, seemingly out of nowhere But a closer look reveals a few drops of a clear, colorless liquid, pooled almost invisibly at the bottom of the vial, that rapidly crystallize under when the vial is tapped.
The stuff in the vial is a ligand that Jaime Martin, a postdoc in Cristina Nevado’s group at the University of Zurich, synthesized as part of his research quest to make a library of stable gold(III) complexes and study their properties and reactivity. Gold(III) tends to undergo reduction easily, and a good ligand is essential for keeping the metal happy in the desired oxidation state. Martin says that most of the ligands he makes are liquids after purification, but the higher molecular weight ones can crystallize under the right conditions—given a little nudge. It’s “very very satisfying” to see the solid pop up under vacuum, he says.
Credit: Jaime Martin. Follow him on Twitter @Jaime_Chem.
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