Saturday, 5 March 2011

The Triumphant Return from Man-Flu

Following the aformentioned bout of man-flu, I have in fact had an exceptionally productive week this week. My lab book informs me that I finished 14 reactions, 13 of which worked (the starting material was at fault for the one that didn’t work, I left an acid chloride in the fridge for too long and it hydrolysed). Exceptionally, not one of these reactions required purification by the dreaded column chromatography either, which is possibly why I got so much done. Nothing makes a coffee break sound so appealing as the prospect of a column at 4pm on a Thursday afternoon. 

I’m at a bit of a standstill with my project currently as I can’t actually do any catalyst runs. Our chiral HPLC has given up the ghost and decided to stop working in any way, shape or form. As such, I’m currently making a load of potential catalysts which are sitting in vials just waiting to be tested. This means I can do all sorts of chemistry (I prepared PhMgBr this week for the first time since I was a lowly second year undergrad making tetraphenyltin) but it doesn’t get me that much closer to the elusive first publication. Oh well, these things happen I guess but I am going to have a lovely few days of catalyst runs (along with half the lab) to do when the HPLC is up and running again. 

There have been very few mistakes/mishaps in the department this week other than the dreaded “dropping a dichloromethane solution of step 5 of your synthesis into the grotty water bath of your rotovac and proceeding to splash grams of strongly coloured pink phthalocyanin all over your bench and yourself” like an unfortunate colleague down the corridor did this week. Word on the grapevine was her boss checked she was alright then proceeded to take photos and laugh, which to be fair is exactly what I would have done in the situation.

Thinking about it, I recall a very similar incident when I was an undergrad. I packed a column, carefully added my compound to the top of the silica, topped up the solvent, added pressure with some bellows, and opened the tap to start taking fractions. Silica shot out of the bottom of that column at great speed as I realised I hadn’t put cotton wool at the bottom and there was in fact nothing to stop the whole lot coming out of the tap when I opened it. My supervisor also picked that moment to come and check everything was ok. He laughed as well, though I can only thank him for not taking photos.

Anyway, that’s enough from me today. I’m off to a do at my boss’ place this evening, so I can only imagine the liquor will be flowing. I’ll post tomorrow if I can get myself out of bed and remain upright long enough to type something meaningful.

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