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Spectroscopy in a Suitcase!

Students of A2 chemistry were visited by Adam Rolt and Aled Roberts who are both studying for respective PhDs in biomedicinal science and materials chemistry at Liverpool University. However, they were not here to discuss their research or to sow seeds of ambition for postgraduate chemistry – but to give our students access to expensive equipment, which is usually only seen in textbooks and videos. Some of our students were tentative at first, but quickly gained confidence and embraced this unique learning opportunity.

First up was Aled, who gave a quick demonstration on how to use a spectrophotometer. Our students had the task of using the instrument to identify the various dyes which are used to colour “skittles” sweets. Special recognition goes to Poppy Parker, who quickly grasped the method and her ideas were developing well beyond the scope of the activity. Next, Adam showed the students how to use a Fourier Transform Infra-Red spectrometer (FTIR). Our students then had to use the method to distinguish various polymer samples by running the FTIR experiment on each one. This gave them a great chance to employ the theory that we have already covered in lessons. Towards the end of the visit, some students also used FTIR to classify three powder samples as either aspirin, paracetamol or ibuprofen – once again, Poppy showed her flair for analytical chemistry by correctly identifying each sample. Great enthusiasm was also evident in Patrick Chien, Frank Huang, Tiffany Lam and Robin Pritchard.
This venture was funded by Royal Society of Chemistry and we are all grateful for the time and effort put in by Adam, Aled and also to Dr Lee Reilly of Liverpool University.

Posted on: February 27, 2013

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