Anatomy of a Reaction

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You have identified (or have been given) an experiment to carry out. You have never run this reaction before, and you want to be sure that your experiment is successful.

Sometimes it will be A Perfect Reaction, and sometimes it will be a A Nightmare Scenario.

Either way, the steps to follow are outlined below.

  1. Research into Literature Precedent
    Finding model procedures (recipes) in the literature for the experiment. Reading about previous work on similar systems and understanding findings reported by other researchers.
  2. Planning and Strategy
    Making a series of decisions before beginning the experiment.
  3. The Setup ::: Setup Mistakes
    Preparing the field of battle: calculations, equipment and apparatus, reactants, reagents, and solvent.
  4. The Reaction: Analysis I ::: Reaction Mistakes
    Running the reaction, from start to quench. Monitoring reaction progress.
  5. The Quench ::: Reaction Mistakes
    Bringing the chemical activity to a halt.
  6. The Workup ::: Workup Mistakes
    Cleaning up the battle scene: separating products from reagents and solvent.
  7. Diagnosis: Analysis II ::: Chromatography Mistakes : Spectroscopy Mistakes
    Inspecting the product mixture and deciding how to proceed.
  8. Purification ::: Chromatography Mistakes : Distillation Mistakes
    Isolating each component of the product mixture and removing impurities.
  9. Characterization ::: Spectroscopy Mistakes
    Obtaining spectral data and identifying the products of the reaction.
  10. Record-keeping ::: Record-keeping Mistakes
    Recoding details of the experiment for future reference.