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Determination of Physical Properties of Organic Liquids

The objective of this experiment is to learn and practice the techniques needed to determine the identity of an unknown organic liquid and its molecular structure. The data that we are attempting to gather is boiling point, density, refractive index and lastly, the IR spectrum of our unknown sample. Using this data, and if collected properly, the identity should be easily determined.

To begin, we followed the procedures to collect the aforementioned physical data values of Ethanol and compare them to the known reference values to discern if our collection techniques were both precise and accurate. And if so, we could move on to collecting this data from the unknown liquid.

I determined that the density of my unknown was approximately 0.793 g/mL and used that information coupled with the observed Refractive Index of 1.405 to narrow the identity of my unknown down to about four or five different possibilities. Unfortunately, I had to eliminate the use of boiling point as a determining factor for two reasons. One, the experimental setup for establishing boiling point left me less than confident about the value I gathered. And two, if it were correct, none of the possible candidates would have been eligible. In the end, it became evident I made the right choice. The final nail in the coffin was the IR Spectrum yielded by my unknown. Attached I have highlighted the functional groups indicated by the IR spectrum. I used this information to ultimately prove the identity of my liquid with confidence.

Postlab 1 & 2 attached.

To conclude, I believe this experiment is a good exercise to help new organic chemistry students become familiar with lab protocol and basic lab techniques. One thing that was most evident for me was the absolute necessity for patience and deliberate execution of lab procedure in order to ensure accurate results. I was only able to use three of the four physical indicators to complete the experiment successfully and I would not have been able to confidently identify my unknown without the use of a very expensive machine to yield its IR spectrum. I think that the only procedure that may need better explanation or different execution was for the determination of boiling point as I was not the only student in my vicinity concerned with the results. I lucked out, because it smelled sweet and dry, I guessed it was an alcohol right away and unknown #86, indeed, turned out to be 2-butanol. I think that my ventilation hood partner, Ali, had an aldehyde because his smelled absolutely nauseating. Overall, fun and informative, Im enjoying your class.