5.35 | Fall 2012 | Undergraduate

Introduction to Experimental Chemistry


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions over 4 weeks, 1 hour / session

Labs: 2 sessions / week, 4 hours / session


5.111 Principles of Chemical Science, 5.112 Principles of Chemical Science or 3.091 Introduction to Solid State Chemistry

Course Description and Format

For most students, 5.35 will be the first formal laboratory course they will take at MIT It is the first part of a modular sequence of increasingly sophisticated (and challenging) laboratory courses required of all Chemistry majors: 5.35 Introduction to Experimental Chemistry, 5.36 Biochemistry and Organic Laboratory, 5.37 Organic and Inorganic Laboratory, and 5.38 Physical Chemistry Laboratory. The objectives of 5.35 are:

  • To illustrate a number of theoretical concepts previously encountered in lecture courses via practical examples in the laboratory;
  • To provide experience with a wide range of laboratory techniques and instruments, ranging from simple gravimetric and volumetric measurements to optical and nuclear-spin spectroscopy;
  • To develop planning and organizational skills for efficient use of laboratory time;
  • To learn to rigorously analyze data, including uncertainties in experimental measurements;
  • To meet the standards expected of scientists in acquiring, interpreting, and reporting data;
  • To demonstrate the value of teamwork in scientific investigation;
  • To develop written and oral communication of scientific results;
  • To learn proper safety practices, especially the handling and disposal of toxic chemicals;
  • To foster collaborations with Chemistry faculty and learn about current work being done in their research labs as it relates to your lab work;
  • To demonstrate that laboratory work can be both exciting and fun.

This course is part of the URIECA Curriculum for Chemistry students at MIT, based on or linked to the current research of faculty in the department. In addition to the lectures and laboratory activities, this course includes laboratory quizzes, pre-lab preparation, and notebooks and reports. The entire curriculum consists of 12 modules, and 5.35 covers the first 3 modules:

Module 1 Fundamentals of Spectroscopy
This experimental module provides an introduction to the fundamental principles of the most common types of spectroscopy, including UV-visible absorption and fluorescence, infrared, and nuclear magnetic resonance. Emphasis is on the principles of how light interacts with matter, a fundamental and hands-on understanding of how spectrometers work, and what can be learned through spectroscopy about prototype molecules and materials. Spectra of small organic molecules, native and denatured proteins, semiconductor quantum dots, and laser crystals are recorded and analyzed.
Basis of the research of Professor Keith Nelson.

Module 2 Synthesis of Coordination Compounds and Kinetics
This experiment is an introduction to the synthesis of simple coordination compounds and chemical kinetics. Cobalt coordination chemistry and its transformations are illustrated in the preparation of [Co(NH3)4(CO3)]NO3 and [Co(NH3)5Cl]Cl2, followed by the aquation of [Co(NH3)5Cl]2+ to yield [Co(NH3)5(H2O)]3+, as detected by visible spectroscopy. Isosbestic points are observed in visible spectra, the rate and rate law is determined, the rate constant is measured at several temperatures, and the activation energy is derived for the aquation reaction.
Similar to the research of Professor Richard Schrock.

Module 3 Fabrication of a Polymeric Light Emitting Device

NOTE: Module 3 is not available on OCW.
This experiment involves the polymerization of a monomer to produce a high molecular weight conjugated polymer of the poly(phenylene vinylene) family. This material is fully characterized and then used to fabricate a light emitting device by spin coating and metal evaporation methods in an inert glovebox environment. The optical absorption and photoemission of the polymer device is determined and compared to the electrically induced emission. Students will learn about the theory of electroluminescent and photovoltaic devices including relative energy levels of organic materials and the nature charge carriers in organic polymers.
Based on the research of Professor Tim Swager.


This course is composed of three separate lab modules. Each module has similar grading schemes differing principally in the format of the final report (see below). Students will receive a distinct letter grade for each module upon completion of the module and after marks have been tabulated. Once all three modules are completed (not necessarily in the same semester), students will receive an overall letter grade for 5.35 that is based on an equal weighting of the grades for each of the three modules.

Module 1—Grading Scheme
Laboratory Quizzes 10 points
Pre-lab Preparation 10 points
The Factual Record (notebook, data, plots) 20 points
Technique, Safety 10 points
Oral Report (incl submitted data analysis) 50 points
Total 100 points
Module 2—Grading Scheme
Laboratory Quizzes 10 points
Pre-lab Preparation 10 points
The Factual Record (notebook, data, plots) 15 points
Technique, Safety 10 points
Waste Inventory 5 points
Written Report + Report Interview 50 points
Total 100 points
Module 3—Grading Scheme
Laboratory Quizzes 15 points
Pre-lab Preparation 10 points
The Factual Record (notebook, data, plots) 15 points
Technique, Safety 10 points
Written Report 50 points
Total 100 points

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2012
Learning Resource Types
notes Lecture Notes