Sunday, October 20, 2013

Chemistry Fun Times

So sadly CHEM30013, Chemical Research Project, has come to a close! I had my final presentation over one week ago and also turned in a final report! WOW! The experience has been an amazing one and I'd just like to take the opportunity again to thank the OSA Foundation for supporting me in my studies at the University of Melbourne. 
I’ll just give you a quick summary of what I did during my project…
I was looking to synthesize and characterize some novel coordination polymers, which can be used for applications like gas absoprtion, heterogeneous catalysis, molecular sieving... I ended up finding 3 new structures! I had two variations of a stacked copper sheet with different anions and then a quadruple interpenetrating diamond-like network (also with copper centers). Here are some nice, pictures that I used in my talk!
My stacked sheets (only 3 sheets are shown in the picture, but imagine an infinite number stacked in the same fashion). Note that each color represents a different sheet (again, 3 total) and you can easily see the stacking pattern is ABA...(red, blue, green). I said that I had two variations of this sheet. What makes the two sheets different is the anions that reside within those channels.
To better show what is meant by quadruple interpenetration, this figure shows how we start with a single adamantane like unit and progressively add more until we get to the quadruple interpenetrating structure. How can you tell that it is interpenetrating? If you look at the top right, for instance, notice how the green structure passes in front and behind the red one. Similarly, if you move to the bottom left, you'll see that the green passes in front of the red and blue and behind the red and blue in the back.
The week after the projects finished up (this past Thursday!) I went to the 3rd year chemistry dinner. My chem buddy, Miriam, met me at my place to get ready. From there we headed over to University House, which I think is like Uni Melb’s equivalent of Caltech’s Athenaeum. It was super fancy inside! When we got there, everyone was just talking and having drinks, so we both grabbed some champagne and went to talk to our other chem buddies Christine and Crystal!

For the CHEM30013 project, Marcus and I both worked with Professor Abrahams (on different projects).

We had a three course meal with some of the chemistry professors, who rotated tables every course. For the first course, I sat next to Prof. Bieske and Prof. Wille (both of them taught part of the Computational Chemistry module for my topics class). 
Professor Bieske, Miriam, myself
For the next course, I sat next to a post doc named Amber (from the Schiesser group I think), who was actually from the States as well. It was kind of cool to talk to her because she had a lot of interesting things to say about working in Australia and being a woman in chemistry. What was most intriguing was that she decided to do her postdoc here at Uni Melb and has decided to move to Australia permanently!
For dessert, I sat with Prof. Paul Donnelly and Prof. Richard O’Hair. The two of them together were pretty funny, just like Bieske and Wille. Donnelly told us a little bit about how he got into chemistry. It was interesting because after undergrad he took some time off to travel through Europe for several months and then worked in industry for another few months before deciding to go back to university.
Some of the professors’ stories definitely got me thinking about my plans for the future! Currently I am in the middle of applying for grad schools and fellowships! It will be interesting to see what happens!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Spring Break Part 3

My final post about Tasmania!

Day 5

In the morning, we stopped in Richmond for a short bit. Susan, Peyton, and I walked down to another bridge that had been built using convict labor.

All three of us under the bridge in Richmond.

From there, Carl took us to the Port Arthur Historic Site. One thing that was super cool was that we were each given cards that corresponded to an individual convict. You had to go into the exhibit and find your card to find out about your convict and his fate (I never found out what happened to my convict because I did this at the very end of our time there  :(  But I did get to explore the grounds, which were amazing!
Port Arthur

The old hospital at Port Arthur.

One of the gardens on the grounds.

After Port Arthur, we stopped at the Tasman Arches and Devil’s Kitchen. After this we drove back into Hobart and dropped off some people at the airport. Sadly, Peyton and I had to say goodbye to Susan :(

The three of us and our guide Carl!

Day 6

Last day in Tasmania! Peyton and I stayed the previous night at The Pickled Frog, which was a pretty nice hostel. The bathroom was interesting because people had graffitied all of the walls. I added a bit of my own in the blue pen.

Lots of people had been telling us to go to MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art. Peyton and I caught a free shuttle from The Frog and went to see what all the fuss was about. The entrance to MONA was pretty random (a tennis court) , but I liked it and thought that this would probably be my kind of art museum.

Entrance to MONA.

Once we got our tickets we made our way down the spiral staircase several levels. At the bottom floor, Peyton and I were both given our own touchscreens…AWESOME. The devices would tell you about artwork in whatever area of the museum you were in and you could rate the artwork (love + or hate x). This was great because I was able to save an itinerary of what I saw in the museum for later.


 I would  tell you what my favorite things were in the museum, but actually mostly everything was pretty cool. 

This was a room with binary code on the walls within a larger room with binary code on the walls within ANOTHER room of binary code.

On the right were some sketches of characters from the Jungle Book with languages under the characters (English, German, French, Hebrew, Greek, etc.). In the movie playing (The Jungle Book), each character spoke their respective language.

Outside the museum overlooking part of Hobart.

Overall, it was a great trip! More to come on my research project! It wrapped up very nicely last week!


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Spring break Part 2

Day 3 

We had another early start this morning, but met our guide Carl who is SUPER HILARIOUS. He trolled us all the time, but sometimes you couldn’t tell because he was so serious. He took us to Cataract Gorge in Launceston. This was actually right near the park Peyton and I were at our first day, by the river. We walked with Susan and everyone else through a nice paved trail through the gorge. We crossed the Alexandra suspension bridge to get back to the bus. From there, Carl drove us to the town of St. Helen’s to stop for food and a quick break.

At the gorge!
We then made our way to the Cosy Corner of the Bay of Fires. It was a little cloudy when we first got there, but it was beautiful a little later. 

Bay of Fires.
We stopped briefly at a nice lookout on our way to Bicheno. 

We made it to Bicheno just before sunset. The three of us hiked to a close lookout and managed to make it before the sunset.

Day 4 

 In the morning, Carl took us up to Freycinet National Park for  some hiking. We first hiked up to a lookout overlooking the bay…of course we had to have some fun on the way up! 

Cool looking rock and us.

It took us about an hour to hike up to this point and we still had a quite a bit of time to kill, so Susan, Peyton, and I decided to hike down to the beach you see in the picture (Wineglass Bay). The beach was really gorgeous – beautiful clear water and white sand with shells.

Down at the beach!

From there, Carl took us to the small town of Ross to stop for lunch. Susan and I tried both of the two bakeries in town. At the first one, Bakery31, we split a salmon and brie pie and a scallop pie. At the Ross Bakery, we split their “world famous vanilla slice”.

We left Ross for the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. The visit here was really awesome! We had a guide at the sanctuary who showed us the wombat Lucy and a baby wombat…SO CUTE! We also got to see a lot of Tasmanian Devils. He then showed us one of the koalas. The guide was super nice and asked us if we wanted to take pictures with the koala and OF COURSE we said YES. There were also two wallabies that were fighting BUT it looked like they were DANCING…AWWW!

 Each person on the tour got a bag of kangaroo food. The sanctuary had a GIANT pen filled with 90+ kangaroos that we got to hang out in for a bit. At one point, for some reason I because super popular and I had like 4 kangaroos trying to get food from me.

I'm feeding kangaroos!

After the sanctuary, Carl took us into Hobart to stay the night. We dropped our stuff at our hostel, Montgomery’s on Argyle St. Susan, Peyton, Stephanie, and I headed out to walk around Hobart for a bit. 

The last part to come a bit later!


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Spring break Part 1

I had a really nice time in Tasmania relaxing and enjoying Australia!

Day 1

I planned the  trip with another American girl, Peyton. We met during Welcome Week and always seemed to run into each other on the street randomly. Most of my other friends went up to the Gold Coast, so it was perfect when Peyton mentioned she wanted to go to Tasmania.
I didn’t have any class on Friday, so we flew out that morning at around 8 am. Peyton and I flew into Launceston Airport and it was beautiful outside! We stayed at Launceston Backpackers. This was my first time staying in a hostel and it was really nice! We were put in a 6 bunk room. When we arrived, there was no one in the HUGE room! After putting out stuff down we decided to walk around the city for the rest of the day.
We headed more into the city center and walked around to see the Town Clock, the umbrella store, the general area…I had a really nice coffee at this place called Coffee Republic. From there, we walked to Royal Park. There was a nice view of the North Esk River.
Royal Park in Launceston

We also went to City Park, which had a nice greenhouse and cute monkeys!
In the greenhouse!

When we got back to the hostel we met another girl staying in our room, Susan, from Germany. She is also our age and is working in Melbourne. We were both really tired that night so we went to sleep early because our tour started the next day!
Day 2
Peyton and I signed up for a 4 day Tasmania tour through Lost in Australia! We left the hostel in the morning to go to Cradle Valley. We first stopped in Sheffield, the “town of murals,” to take a look at some of their ____ …yes you guessed it MURALS!
One of my favorite murals
After looking at the murals, we stopped briefly at a cafe. I grabbed a vegetarian and beef pie while I was there, one to eat for breakfast and one for later. The pies were so good…for the rest of the trip I tried savory pies at the local bakeries.
From there, we made our way to Cradle Valley. We stopped on the way up because our driver spotted a wombat in the WILD. COOL!

When we arrived at Cradle Mountain National Park, I was surprised at how cold it was! There was snow! WOAH! Our group split up when we stopped at Dove Lake. A little over half wanted to take the trail around the lake, while five of us decided to hike to Marion’s Lookout, overlooking Dove Lake. 

The trail was really beautiful, but it started getting SO COLD. In addition, it was kind of rainy outside and most of the time the trail was watery. It was like walking in a small creek…water was gushing down the stairs. At one point, it started snowing on us and closer to the top of the lookout it was REALLY WINDY and we were pelted by snow.
Part of the snowy already!

This all sounds super dramatic and it was actually really fun and cool! It was awesome to make it to the top, even though it was cloudy and you couldn’t really see Cradle Mountain.

On the way back to the hostel, we stopped at this raspberry farm in Elizabeth Town. Susan and I shared a raspberry waffle and both ordered raspberry hot chocolates. This was definitely one of the best dishes of the entire trip.

Time to get back to work! I'll tell you m ore about the trip later. I can't believe spring break is almost over!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

It is finally spring break here for Uni Melbourne students! I am going on a short trip with another American girl to Tasmania, so I'll be offline until I get back on Wednesday night. Until then, I'll leave you with these cool pictures I took today through the microscope. The cool, but unfortunate, thing about the bottom picture is that the crystals I wanted were mixed in with excess ligand that had come out of solution and crystallized. This sample was intended for elemental analysis, so I spent a lot of time on the microscope trying to separate the clear ligand from the blue complex to avoid a biased result from the analysis.

Diamond network crystals.

Stacked sheet crystals (NO3 counter ions) mixed with crystallized ligand. There is also a fiber in the top right corner from the filter paper I used to collect the crystals.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Sheet structure

As I promised, here's the sheet structure I just made!

At the top left is a bird's eye view of a single sheet. At the top right corner is two sheets layered above each other. From this view you can see that the sheets do not stack directly on top of each other in an AAA... fashion; they actually stack in an ABAB... manner. At the bottom left, I have just rotated the the top right picture so you can see the sheets from the side. At the bottom right, I have added more sheets (the other pictures have sheets removed for clarity) so that the ABAB... pattern is more obvious.

As chemical research project comes to a close, I've spent this last week in lab tying up loose ends rather than trying to find more structures. I have taken some nice IR spectra that confirm the presence of certain functional groups (like C=O and NO3) in the crystals. Other than that, I am getting things together for my final report and project talk.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Good news everyone!

So far I have been trying a lot of different metal base combinations in the hopes of getting another interpenetrating network or some kind of unique structure…all to NO AVAIL. More recently, I have been using a variation of a variation of DABCO (which looks like this, which I mentioned in an earlier post, and I finally got a good hit!
GOOD NEWS EVERYONE! Chemistry works! …as Professor Farnsworth (from Futurama) would say.

The crystals I have are still derived from copper; the other metals I have tried still haven’t worked so well.  Actually, they are the same color as the 4-interpenetrating network, so I thought at first the crystal structure would be the same. Below you see the crystals from the quadruple interpenetrating network.

It turns out that the new crystals form stacked sheets in an ABAB… fashion. Cool!!! You can see my vials below! Interestingly the sheets have different sized holes as well.

It was super exciting to get these results because Chemical Research Project is coming to a close soon. In fact, we have our presentations in about 2 weeks! I don’t have a nice picture to show you yet of the actual sheets (ie. a crystal structure), but I’ll post it when I have it ready!