Materials/Inorganic Chemistry

Inorganic Pigment Design Research Module

The research aim of this Research Module is to synthesize, characterize, and analyze inorganic solid-state materials for potential use as environmentally friendly pigments. Students use furnaces to perform traditional solid-state synthesis and analyze their samples using a Rigaku Miniflex X-ray diffractometer and Ocean Optics UV-Visible reflectance probes.

Students began with a targeted research project where they were placed into three groups and each group learned how to use high temperature solid-state reactions to make pigments like PbCrO4. The pigments were analyzed using X-ray powder diffraction and UV-Vis diffuse reflectance spectroscopy and students characterized the composition and optical properties of their samples.

Student were assigned a compound composition and by combining results they saw how changes in the cation and/or anion led to changes in the color. The target solid solutions investigated were SrMoO4 to PbMoO4, SrWO4 to PbWO4, YVO4 to BiVO4, and BiVO4 to PbMoO4.

In Phase I of their research exploration, students were given a set of compounds to synthesize and they performed analysis in the same fashion as the targeted research project. They were given research questions to address and once these tasks were completed the students preformed Phase II of their research project. In this part of the project all experiments were decided upon by the students. Students were to form and test a hypothesis based on how the band gap and color will change as the chemical composition changes, as well as discuss the similarities and differences in the structure and unit cell of the compounds synthesized in Phase I vs. Phase II compounds.

Students completed their investigations working in assigned groups of three to four students. Laboratory tasks were strongly supported by REEL staff (Woodward, Stoltzfus, Cuthbert, and Turner) with Peer-Mentors providing additional assistance.  Topics not typically included in Chemistry 123, i.e. X-ray diffraction, UV-Vis spectroscopy, structures of solids, molecular orbital theory, were discussed in lecture and course handouts.  Final student results were communicated via group posters, as part of the OSU REEL Student Symposium, and with individual papers.  Some students involved in this project have continued solid-state research projects with Dr. Woodward, presented their work at regional conferences, and even saw their work lead to a scientific publication.

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