Chemistry Major Earns Publishing Credits
Samantha DeCarlo was just a freshman when she started working in Professor Anne Marteel-Parrish’s chemistry lab. Three years later, the research she conducted that summer has been published in the Spring 2009 issue of Green Chemistry Letters and Reviews, a peer-reviewed journal that focuses on publication of innovative new syntheses and procedures that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous materials.
In fact, her classmate Heather Sheriden ’10, is also a co-author with Professor Marteel-Parrish in the same journal edition. The two young scientists got their introduction to green chemistry during the College’s summer science research program in 2007.
“I had a pretty good idea I wanted to major in chemistry,” Sam recalls, “and at the end of my freshman year Professor Marteel-Parrish invited us to work in her lab that summer. That was a really great opportunity.”
Another exceptional opportunity Sam enjoyed was spending a semester abroad in Ireland. “It’s tough sometimes for science students to go abroad and complete the required coursework on schedule, but my advisors worked with me so I could take two chemistry courses at University College Cork that counted toward my major,” explains Sam. “It really was a great experience to see the world beyond the College community.”
Sam’s research project back home endeavored to develop a greener method for the production of electroceramic compounds used as semi-conductors in computers and communication devices. Chemists typically use toxic chemicals and large amounts of energy to synthesize perovskites, one of the most important structure class in all of materials science. Physical properties include superconductivity, magnetoresistence, ionic conductivity, and other dielectric properties useful in microelectronics and telecommunication. In Professor Marteel-Parrish’s lab, Sam employed a synthesis that was less energy-intensive, less time-consuming and safer for the environment. Water—not acid—was the solvent of choice.
“It’s interesting to look at established processes and try to make it more environmentally friendly,” Sam remarks. She and Heather have shared their efforts so far with fellow chemists at the Sigma Xi conference and the American Chemistry Society national conference; they’ll present again at a green chemistry conference in June.
Look for their articles “Towards a more environmentally benign synthesis of doped barium titanate” and “Generality of the environmentally benign catecholate method to the synthesis of barium-based perovskites” in the latest issue of Green Chemistry Letters and Reviews.
Senior Capstone Experience
Non covalent derivatization and crystal engineering applied to supramolecular aggregates and amphiphiles
Advisor: Dr. Anne Marteel-Parrish
Weak intermolecular forces govern many of the properties of a molecule such as diffusion, volatization, solvation, and phase transfer. In traditional chemistry the assembly of molecules is primarily centered upon covalent derivatization. Nowadays modern and green chemistry shifts the spotlight to the manipulation of non covalent intermolecular interactions, known as non covalent derivatization (NCD). Non covalent processes usually happen spontaneously and under ambient conditions, making them more environmentally friendly than their covalent counterparts.
The process that first applied NCD was the cocrystallization of hydroquinone (HQ), a supramolecular aggregate used in the photography industry as a photographic developer in Polaroid film. The first goal of my SCE project is to not only reproduce this published process but also extend this process to toluhydroquinone, a derivative of hydroquinone. Toluhydroquinone has a variety of uses and can take on the role of inhibitor, antioxidant, intermediate, and catalyst. The second goal of my SCE project is to look at self-assembly behavior and potentially apply NCD to polycyclic aromatic ammonium amphiphiles, used for the dissolution of carbon nanotubes in solvents.
- Ph.D. Program at The University of Maryland, College Park