Instagram competition

Last semester the Chemistry Department expanded its social media presence onto Instagram (@sheffield.chem). During this time two competitions have been run for postgraduates and undergraduates to submit photos from laboratory research or experiments, with the winners decided by the photo which received the most likes.

The winning photos were taken by postdoctoral researcher Dr Michael Walker and second-year undergraduate Milan Nakum. The photos can be found below with a small summary of the chemistry.

Postgraduate competition
Winner: Dr Michael Walker

Postgraduate instagram competition winner DPQ crystals

DPQ is probably one of the most synthesised compounds in the Thomas Group – for the simple fact that it is a really useful building block. The interest to the Thomas group is in the fusion of metal centres with coordinated ligands and their uses as therapeutics, diagnostics and imaging agents.

In conjunction with transition metals such as ruthenium, this building block can be used to produce fluorescent cell-imaging agents or therapeutics in applications such as Photodynamic Therapy (PDT).

Derived from 1,10-phenanthroline, DPQ can be made using nitrating mixes like those used to make gun cotton or explosives. Despite having access to millions of pounds worth of analytical equipment, you also know you’ve made it because it makes you sneeze! That and the fact it produces lovely yellow crystals of course.

Undergraduate Competition
Winner: Milan Nakum

Second year undergraduate Milan Nakum winning instagram photo of Ferrocene crystals.

Ferrocene is an organometallic compound consisting of an iron metal centre sandwiched between two aromatic cyclopentadienyl, C5H5-, rings, which is part of the class of compounds known as metallocenes.

The synthesis of ferrocene is a second-year undergraduate inorganic laboratory experiment. The reaction itself involves the reaction of cyclopentadiene with iron trichloride. The crude product is purified using vacuum sublimation, which avoids the product decomposing. The photo itself is of the ferrocene crystals purified via vacuum sublimation.

The cyclopentadienyl rings of ferrocene are also reactive, undergoing Friedel-Crafts Acetylation. This experiment forms the second part of the ferrocene experiment where acetylferrocene is synthesised and purified.

There are many applications of ferrocene. In particular, ferrocene has uses in the catalytic synthesis of polymers. Ferrocene has also been revolutionary for diabetics in the 1980’s, where using ferrocene as an electron carrier allowed the simple and accurate measurement of blood sugar levels.

For further photos from our laboratories follow the department on our social media avenues.

Written By:
Joe Clarke and Dr Michael Walker