This Learning Object is dedicated to Prof. Claudia Turro as part of the VIPEr LGBTQIAN+ LO collection created in celebration of Pride Month (Jun) 2022. Prof. Turro was featured in the April 2022 special virtual issue Out in Inorganic Chemistry: A Celebration of LGBTQIAPN+ Inorganic Chemists (https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.inorgchem.2c00729). Claudia holds a special place in my heart. I came out later in life, and she was incredibly supportive as I wrestled with my identity as a gay man. She's an outstanding role model who's had a positive impact not only on inorganic chemistry, but on the people doing the science.
Rationale. Reading the chemical literature is like solving a puzzle—it’s both a challenging, and rewarding, experience. One of the challenges is trying to figure out, “What are they talking about!?”, with the reward being using what you know to solve the puzzle. This paper by Turro and coworkers is an excellent example of combining principles of discreet molecular systems with extended solid state structures (although one doesn’t need to have had a solid state chemistry experience to read the paper) and applying them to the creation of dye-sensitized photoelectrochemical cells, a potential key to the larger challenge of harnessing renewable solar energy.
The goals of this exercise are to use the tools you’ve taken in your inorganic course and to apply them to studying this article. While you may not understand (or have heard of) all of the science or spectroscopic techniques, you’ll find that with some guidance, you’ll be able to pick apart some key pieces of this article, and hopefully feel pretty good about it at the end! And, of course, you’ll learn some cool inorganic chemistry in the process. Specifically, a student should be able to...
1. ...determine the reasoning ("elevator pitch") for the work in question.
2. ...use MO theory to determine the bond order of a MM bond.
3. ...use basic principles of redox reactions to explain this dye-sensitized photoelectrochemical cell.
4. ...use principles of electronic absorption spectroscopy to explain UV-Visible spectroscopic features of the Rh-Rh complex in question. >
5. ...use basic principles of acid-base chemistry to explain why the cell produces H2.
When I teach either intermediate or advanced inorganic chemistry, I devote at least three class periods to a group reading of the literature. I provide students with questions and the article of interest, and ask them to answer questions to the best of their ability prior to class. Then, in class, we have a round-table discussion (at most we have 12 students in a section) of the article. I pose the general question, "What's the elevator pitch?", and ask a student to answer. Then I move from student-to-student asking questions. I let the class know that they are allowed to help their colleagues with answering the questions. I also try to ask springboard questions related to the questions I've posed. I indicate to students they should be taking notes on the answers, because they'll see those questions again on an oral exam. However, you certainly don't need to conduct an oral exam; you could discuss the paper, and ask the same questions again on an exam.
I use the attached oral exam rubric document to assess student learning of the paper. I bring students into a room with a white board (and typically with another faculty member) to ask them one of the questions from our class discussion of the paper. Students are allowed to bring the paper with them, as well as their notes from the literature discussion, to answer the question, including a springboard question. I let the students know that I'm also basing the part of their grade on evaluation of their performance in an "oral exam"-type situation.
I have not implemented the LO with this paper yet. However, I've used this format for over a decade, and have found students improve from their first oral exam to their subsequent ones.