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.

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This section lists the course’s experiment assignments and accompanying materials.

Laboratory Policies and Organization (PDF)

Lab Notebooks (PDF)

Report Format (PDF)

1 Ferrocene Lab

In the course of this synthetic sequence, the student will encounter operations such as sublimation, distillation, and execution of reaction under an inert atmosphere, all common techniques in synthetic chemistry. The principal aims of this experiment are:

  • To provide experience in the synthesis of ferrocene.
  • To become familiar with inert atmosphere techniques.
  • To introduce the use of thin-layer chromatography as an analytical tool and column-chromatography as a means of purification.

4 Ferrocene Lab Manual (PDF)
2 Ellen Swallow Richards Lab

This is an integrated experiment, which combines techniques from organic, biological, physical, food, and analytical chemistry. Its purpose is to introduce students to Ellen Swallow Richards.

  • The atomic absorption method and Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) as analytical techniques.
  • UV-VIS Spectrophotometric analysis.
  • Fish, soil and water sample sampling methods and analysis.
  • Quantitative techniques used in the analysis and detection of essential and toxic elemental substances.

This experiment will also improve students’ lab and computational techniques in the following areas:

  • Learning the correct handling and operation of a Tri-Cell AA (Atomic Absorption) mercury analyzer and an ICP-MS mass spectrometer.
  • Precise handling and wet chemistry techniques for work up of a variety of fish, sediment, water, and environmental samples.
  • Using Microsoft Excel for providing graphical and numerical output analysis to prepare calibration curves and perform an error analysis on the results.
  • Learning about Microwave Digestion as a technique to prepare samples for analysis.

5 Ellen Swallow Richards Lab Manual (PDF)
3 Essential Oils Lab

In this experiment, students will be working with oils prepared from caraway seeds and spearmint leaves. Each oil has a distinct and characteristic odor, yet carvone is the major component in both oils!

Students will be given a sample of either caraway oil or spearmint oil and will separate the carvone from the higher-boiling and lower-boiling impurities (such as limonene), via vacuum distillation.

Next, students will use gas chromatography and refractometry to check the purity of the distillate and to estimate the relative concentrations of limonene and carvone in the oil, and then convert the carvone to its semicarbazone for use in a polarimetric analysis.

After obtaining infrared spectra of the carvone and limonene fractions and interpreting the results, students will characterize the semicarbazone by melting point determination.

Finally, students will visit the X-Ray Crystallography laboratory where spectra of selected crystals will be determined.

4 Essential Oils Lab Manual (PDF)
4 Fischer Esterification Lab

This is an integrated experiment, which combines techniques from organic, thermodynamics, physical, and analytical chemistry. It has been designed to introduce the student to:

  • Organic synthesis.
  • Fundamental chemical engineering separation process principles on refluxing.
  • Two phase solvent extraction using a Separatory Funnel.
  • Distillation at atmospheric pressure.
  • Precise handling and measurement techniques for volatile organic liquids.
  • Correct handling and operation of a Mass Spectrometer & NMR Spectrometer.
  • Thermodynamics, solution chemistry, intermolecular bonding, and organic nomenclature.


Esterification Lab Manual (PDF - 2MB)

Also see:

Bruker NMR Automation use. By John H. Grimes, MIT Department of Chemistry Instrumentation Facility.

5 Catalase Kinetics Lab

In this experiment, the student will investigate the enzyme activity of catalase by studying the decomposition of H2O2 to form water and oxygen.

Using an oxygen based pressure sensor the student measures the amount of oxygen produced and then calculates the rate of the enzyme catalyzed reaction under various conditions.

The student also completes a protein assay on an unknown sample of catalase using the Coomassie® Plus Protein Assay from Pierce to determine the protein concentration of the sample. The correlation between the actual and calculated concentration gives an indication of the experimental skills used in carrying out the experiment.

4 Catalase Kinetics Lab Manual (PDF)

Required Videos from the MIT Digital Laboratory Techniques Manual

In addition to the reading and written preparation for each experiment, students are also assigned to view selected videos from the MIT Digital Laboratory Techniques Manual, a series of videos designed to help students prepare for chemistry laboratory class.

VIDEOS related labs
Volumetric Techniques Ellen Swallow Richards, Esterification, and Catalase
Titration Ellen Swallow Richards
TLC Basics Ferrocene and Esterification
TLC Advanced Esterification
Reaction Work-up I: Extracting, Washing and Drying Esterification
Filtration Ferrocene, Ellen Swallow Richards, and Essential Oils
Sublimation Ferrocene
Column Chromatography Ferrocene
Using a Balance Ferrocene, Ellen Swallow Richards, Essential Oils, Esterification, and Catalase
Melting Point Determination Ferrocene and Essential Oils
Using an Automatic Pipet Catalase
Making Buffers and Using a pH Meter Catalase
Distillation I Essential Oils and Esterification
Distillation II Essential Oils
Reflux Esterification

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

theaters Lecture Videos