As part of our A level Chemistry syllabus we are required to make our own aspirin sample which puts lots of the things we have learnt this year into context. Our aspirin samples were taken to the NMR centre at Liverpool University so they could be tested to see how pure the samples were. NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) is a technique used to find out about hydrogen and carbon environments so you can deduce the structure of a compound.
Our class went to the university to learn more about analytical Chemistry which will aid our revision for our upcoming exams. The morning session began with introductions to NMR and mass spectrometry. We have already covered both of these topics in class so it was interesting to find out how they were applied in real life situations. We then prepared samples and tested them in the NMR machine. We used a technique called column chromatography to remove congo red from our sample. Then we used NMR to certify that all the red dye had been removed.
Later in the day, we got to see the graphs produced by our aspirin samples in the NMR machine. We found that everyone had successfully made aspirin! Although, everyone had impurities so we could see who had made the purest aspirin.
I found the trip really beneficial as it gave me a greater understanding to the process of NMR which can be difficult to understand in a classroom. It was also really exciting to be in the university during term time to get a sense of what university life will be like. I am hoping I will be able to use everything I learnt from the trip in my exams.
Eleanor Kershaw Y13