A three-week laboratory experiment, which introduces students in an advanced inorganic chemistry course to air-sensitive chemistry and catalysis, is described. During the first week, the students synthesize RuCl2(PPh3)3. During the second and third weeks, the students characterize the formed coordination compound and use it as a precatalyst for the oxidation of 1-phenylethanol to acetophenone. The synthesized RuCl2(PPh3)3 is characterized using 1H and 31P NMR spectroscopy, IR spectroscopy, and magnetic susceptibility measurements. The students run catalytic and control reactions and determine the percent yield of the product using 1H NMR. The synthesis and catalytic conditions are modified from previously published research articles. The RuCl2(PPh3)3 complex is air sensitive and is prepared under a nitrogen gas atmosphere and worked up in an inert atmosphere glovebox. The catalytic and control reactions are set up in the inert atmosphere glovebox and carried out at reflux outside of the glovebox under a nitrogen gas atmosphere. In this laboratory, the students learn how to set up and run a reaction under a nitrogen atmosphere, how to work in a glovebox, and how to set up and characterize catalytic and control reactions.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/john_miecznikowski/8/