Study Materials


The experiments described in these materials are potentially hazardous and require a high level of safety training, special facilities and equipment, and supervision by appropriate individuals. You bear the sole responsibility, liability, and risk for the implementation of such safety procedures and measures. MIT shall have no responsibility, liability, or risk for the content or implementation of any of the material presented.

Legal Notice

The “Digital Lab Techniques Manual” is a series of videos designed to help you prepare for your chemistry laboratory class. Each video provides a detailed demonstration of a common laboratory technique, as well as helpful tips and information. These videos are meant to supplement, and not replace, your lab manual and assigned reading. In fact, you will most benefit from watching the videos if you have already read the appropriate background information. To be a great experimentalist, you must understand both theory and technique! If you have questions about what you see, make sure to ask your TA or your instructor. The full “Digital Lab Techniques Manual” is available in our Supplemental Resources section under Chemistry.

These files are also available on iTunes U and YouTube.

Note: In 5.301, videos 3, 5, 6, 9, and 10 are used.

3 TLC-The Basics 
Thin-layer chromatography is the most commonly used analytical technique in many research labs. This video walks you through every step, from setting up a developing chamber to calculating Rf values.
5 Reaction Work-Up I

Extracting, Washing and Drying: It ain’t over ‘til it’s over. Learn how to “work up” your reaction using a separatory funnel to perform a liquid-liquid extraction. This is one purification technique you don’t want to miss!

6 Reaction Work-Up II 
Using the Rotavap: The rotary evaporator is your friend in the lab. This video will ensure that you build a safe and productive relationship.
9 Recrystallization

Recrystallization takes patience, but it’s worth it! This video walks you through the procedure, from solubility tests to cold filtration, with information on one-solvent and two-solvent recrystallizations.

10 Column Chromatography 
It takes considerable practice to master the art of “running a column”. This video will get you started, with tips on picking appropriate conditions, packing and running a column, monitoring separation, and even making a micro-column from a pipet.
11 Using a Balance 
Correct usage and maintenance of a balance is a basic skill that is essential in any laboratory procedure.
12 Melting Point Determination 
Throughout your laboratory experiences, you will frequently need to assess the purity or identity of a crystalline solid. Both of these goals can be accomplished by determining a compound’s melting point.
15 Distillation I: Simple & Fractional Distillations 
Learn how to separate or purify liquid mixtures that boil below 150°C with or without a fractionating column.
16 Distillation II: Vacuum Distillations 
Do you need to purify a liquid that boils above 150°C? This video shows you how to perform a distillation under vacuum.
17 Refluxing a Reaction 
Most organic reactions occur slowly at room temperature and require heat to allow them to go to completion in a reasonable time frame. Running a reaction under reflux allows you to heat a reaction without losing solvent due to evaporation and with causing an explosion.

Videos created by Dr. Sarah Tabacco and Aayesha Siddiqui.

Music in the videos performed by Daniel Steele.

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

theaters Demonstration Videos
co_present Instructor Insights