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Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: Crystal labyrinth

by Manny Morone
November 7, 2018


The wall of flask with a patter of many thin crystals lining the wall and intersecting at right angles.
Credit: Jesús San José Orduna

After more than a year of trying to synthesize one particular compound, Jesús San José Orduna dried his purified product and found these labyrinthine crystals on the inside of his 250-mL flask. As a Ph.D. student in Mónica Pérez-Temprano’s lab at the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia, he had the goal of making organometallic complexes that incorporate first-row transition metals—in this case cobalt. He hopes to analyze the mechanism behind how those catalysts work during reactions. Ironically, after wandering through this maze of chemical synthesis for a year, San José Orduna realized that the molecule he’d made was not useful for the mechanistic experiments that he and Pérez-Temprano hoped to perform. Instead, they were able to find commercially available organic substrates that did the job just fine.

Submitted by Jesús San José Orduna

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This story was updated on Nov. 7, 2018, to explain that the commercially available chemicals that the researchers found were organic substrates, not cobalt catalysts. 


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