21 Jan 2020


Submitted by Sheila Smith, University of Michigan- Dearborn

It's that time of year again, time for Inorganic lab. I love it and hate it. There's no other experience in our program that makes a student chemist feel more like a real chemist than our Capstone Laboratory Experience, but I always feel like my experiments are dated, and my students aren't challenged to see what inorganic chemistry really is.

With no recent lab texts published, it seems like we all do the same classical experiments on Werner complexes and magnetism, cobalamin, and ferrocene…the same experiments that I did 30 years ago in my own undergraduate lab. I apologize for casting aspersions if you’re more creative than I am.

The recent lab survey (thanks for participating!) has me all excited about reinventing inorganic chemistry lab. Because of that, we're working to collect data and experiences for three literature-based experiments on VIPEr:

The first experiment: Antibacterial Reactivity of Ag(I) Cyanoximate Complexes is in its second year of data collection after revision following the first year. This experiment ties classical coordination complexation to a biological application with the opportunity to collaborate across disciplines for anti-bacterial assessment.

The second experiment: Synthesis and Characterization of a Series of Organometallic Ru(II) Complexes with Fluorinated Phosphine and Phosphite Ligands offers a modern alternative to ferrocene that incorporates 31P NMR.

Finally, the third experiment Synthesis, Characterization, and Computational Modeling of [Co(acacen)L2]+, an Inhibitor of Zinc Finger Proteins offers a twist on the classic Werner complex experiment, by tying the work to a biological application and including a molecular modeling component. 

All of these experiments are grounded in primary literature, and include modern applications. If you’ve done, or are doing, any of these labs, we’d love to have you come play with us. Our ultimate goal is to crowdsource the data to get these experiments published in J. Chem. Ed.

We’re going to use the Discord channel to allow timely communication and troubleshooting. So, you’ll have company and help! If you haven’t joined Discord, see this recent BITeS post about joining: Slither into the VIPErPit! Once you’re in, shoot me an email ( and I’ll add you to the Discord Channel we’re using to communicate. Looking forward to seeing you there!