Undergraduate Experiment: Unknown Identification

Incorporation of NMR Spectroscopy into an undergraduate lab provides an excellent method with which to provide students with practical experiments and hands-on experience acquiring their own data and interpreting actual NMR spectra.  At Nanalysis we have begun preparing a series of pamphlets, highlighting ideas for instructors about finding simple ways to incorporate NMR Spectroscopy into the lab.

Before NMR Spectroscopy, characterization of unknowns was a cumbersome procedure requiring many lengthy tests and a large quantity of unknown material (e.g.,melting point/boiling point, solubility, derivatization etc.).  Since NMR Spectroscopy became a commonly used technique, unknown identification has not only become substantially faster, but it can also be performed on materials in very small quantity.  Subsequently, this process has become much faster and has facilitated numerous areas of synthetic chemistry – organic, pharmaceutical, natural products, inorganic etc..

Inspired by an experiment constructed by Dr. Sumod at Nanyang Techological University (NTU) we decided to put together an identification experiment that could be used in conjunction with traditional unknown identification experiments or as a stand-alone experiment to highlight to feature the diversity in a chemists’ toolbox.