After more than a year of trying to synthesize one particular compound, Jesús San José Orduna dried his purified product and found these labyrinthine crystals on the inside of his 250-mL flask. As a Ph.D. student in Mónica Pérez-Temprano’s lab at the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia, he had the goal of making organometallic complexes that incorporate first-row transition metals—in this case cobalt. He hopes to analyze the mechanism behind how those catalysts work during reactions. Ironically, after wandering through this maze of chemical synthesis for a year, San José Orduna realized that the molecule he’d made was not useful for the mechanistic experiments that he and Pérez-Temprano hoped to perform. Instead, they were able to find commercially available organic substrates that did the job just fine.
Submitted by Jesús San José Orduna
Do science. Take pictures. Win money. Enter our photo contest here.
Related C&EN Content:
This story was updated on Nov. 7, 2018, to explain that the commercially available chemicals that the researchers found were organic substrates, not cobalt catalysts.