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Chemistry at Envisioning Research Contest 2021

The Envisioning Research contest is a collaborative effort by NC State’s Office of Research and Innovation, the Graduate School, the NC State University Libraries, the Office of Undergraduate Research and University Communications and Marketing. Envisioning Research was open to faculty, staff, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and undergraduates.

Microscopic Peacock Tail: Fanning Zinc Chloride Trihydrate Crystals

by Shelby Boyd

Envisioning Research Contest Winner Shelby Boyd: Microscopic Peacock Tail: Fanning Zinc Chloride Trihydrate Crystals
Microscopy, Second Place, Graduate Students and Postdocs

Color-enhanced polarized light microscopy frame from a video of the zinc chloride trihydrate freezing. By studying the crystallization rate of this ionic liquid at various temperatures, we can develop models of crystal nucleation and growth that are valid across a wider range of conditions than current models.

Photochemical Upconversion in Micellar Assemblies

by Rémi Fayad

Envisioning Research Contest Winner Remi Fayad: PhotoChemical Upconversion in Micellar Assemblies
Graphics and Data Visualization, First Place, Graduate Students and Postdocs

In this project, we used a light absorber based on earth-abundant elements confined in a micelle and an energy acceptor to generate a high energy photon (deep blue) from 2 lower energy photons (cyan blue) in water. This process, known as photochemical upconversion, was achieved by triplet-triplet annihilation of the energy acceptor excited states. While this process is very well studied in organic solvents, it proves to be challenging in water for multiple reasons. The micellar design (see image) provided a viable route to circumvent these challenges and to realize photochemical upconversion in neat water which can open the scope of studying many photoredox applications that operate under environmental-friendly conditions and using earth-abundant copper metal as the photosensitizer.
Authors: Rémi Fayad, Anh Thy Bui, Samuel G. Shepard, Felix N. Castellano

NC State in a Flask

by Alejandro Valdes

Winning envisioning research contest: NC State in a Flask
Photography, Honorable Mention, Graduate Students and Postdocs

Phenyl pyruvic acids derivatives are very useful building blocks used for the synthesis of synoxazolidinones and pyrrolidinediones, among other many chemical compounds. In the Pierce Lab, we access phenyl pyruvic acids through hydrolysis of azlactones that form via Erlenmeyer reaction. In this picture, para-trifluoro phenyl pyruvic acid synthetized in gram scale yielded this deep red-colored solution. The immobile solvent surface allows to see NC State’s north campus on the horizon, visible through a lab window on the 8th floor of Dabney Hall.