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Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: Bubbling catalyst

by Alexandra Taylor
August 1, 2019

A film in a rotovap flask shown under normal light and UV light.
Credit: Chris Thomson/@VilelaLAB

These photos show a boron-dipyrromethene (BODIPY) derivative under white light (left) and ultraviolet light. Chris Thomson, a PhD candidate working in Filipe Vilela’s lab at Heriot-Watt University, took the photos after purifying the BODIPY-based photocatalyst. After most of the solvent had evaporated off, Thomson tried to get the concentrated, oily residue to solidify by reducing the pressure. The remaining solvent became trapped in bubbles in the viscous residue. As the bubbles expanded, they pushed the concentration of the product—which was still slightly dissolved—past a critical point, and it rapidly solidified as a thin, crystalline film around the bubbles. Thomson says the vaporized solvent escaped through little holes, but the film remained stable. “The product has many potential applications, but in the immediate future I’m intending to use it to generate a polymer-supported organic photocatalyst for generating reactive oxygen species, useful for organic synthesis,” Thomson explains. The Vilela lab is researching ways to make heterogeneous photocatalysts more efficient.

Submitted by Chris Thomson/@VilelaLAB

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