Using essential oils to teach advanced-level organic chemistry separation techniques and spectroscopy
upper-division undergraduate, laboratory instruction, organic chemistry, hands-on learning/manipulatives, problem solving/decision making, chromatography, IR spectroscopy, NMR spectroscopy, separation science, spectroscopy
Students sometimes have difficulty grasping the importance of when and how basic distillation techniques, column chromatography, TLC, and basic spectroscopy (IR and NMR) can be used to identify unknown compounds within a mixture. This two-part experiment uses mixtures of pleasant-smelling, readily available terpenoid compounds as unknowns to provide upper-division undergraduate students with experience in two major areas common to organic chemistry: (1) separation of mixtures and (2) structure determination. This experiment also encourages students to use deductive reasoning skills in addition to their expanding knowledge of spectroscopy for structure determination purposes.
Bott, T. M., Wan, H. (2013). Using essential oils to teach advanced level separation techniques and spectroscopy. Journal of Chemical Education, 90, 1064-1066. https://doi.org/10.1021/ed300736j
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