The students prepare a short proposal outlining their desired target and why they want to make it. Chemicals are ordered, and during the last 3-4 weeks of the semester, the students carry out their synthesis. The writeup is as a paper submtited to the journal Inorganic Chemistry using the template from the journal web page.
This is a favorite lab at HMC. I increased the length of the experiment to 4 weeks from 2 weeks during 2007, allowing more time for exploration, optimization, and characterization of their products. Past targets have inlucded Wilkinson’s catalyst, ionic liquids, Zr(ebthi)Cl2 (challenging), siloxane polymers (difficult to characterize).
I highly recommend that students submit proposed syntheses early to get them approved. The students are often either way too ambitious, or too tentative and want to make some simple thing from another lab manual. I like them to do two linear steps (more for stronger students.)