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Research Opportunities for Students

by Jennifer Mihalick last modified Apr 23, 2018 05:08 PM


  • Thermochemical studies of weakly bound adducts

METHODS USED:  Isothermal Microcalorimetry, spectroscopy, computer analysis

  • Properties of silica-dye composite materials

METHODS USED: sol-gel synthesis, viscometry, spectroscopy

hybrid solgel

MINIMUM EXPERIENCE:  two semesters of General Chemistry

PREFERRED EXPERIENCE: one semester each Analytical and Organic Chemistry

STUDENTS:  There are usually two or three students doing research, in the summer and/or during the school year.

M Yang and K Paltzer

Mai Yang and Kelsey Paltzer presented research on dyes and metal mordants

Students from this lab have presented their research at the Chemistry Department Seminar; at a Symposium on Undergraduate Research in Math, Science and Engineering at Argonne National Laboratory; at a meeting of the Northeastern Wisconsin section of the American Chemical Society;
at the annual UW Oshkosh Celebration of Scholarship; and at the UW System Symposium for Undergraduate Research.


Thermochemistry of dye binding by metal mordants.

People have been dyeing fabrics since prehistoric times.  By trial and error it was discovered
that some metal salts improve the binding of dyes to fabrics, allowing the color to resist fading
in water or sunlight. The binding agents are called mordants, meaning "biting." 

Spectroscopic and calorimetric experiments provide qualitative information about the color change,
and quantitative information about the effects of metals on a dye's binding strength.  

related publications:

J. E. Mihalick, K. M. Donnelly.  “Using metals to change the colors of natural dyes.” Journal of Chemical Education 83, 1550-1551 (2006).

J. E. Mihalick, K. M. Donnelly. "Cooking up colors from plants, fabric and metal." Journal of Chemical Education 84, 96A (2007).


Thermochemistry of heavy metal binding by polysaccharides.

The cyanobacterium Microcystis flos-aquae, which grows in Lake Winnebago,
produces a polysaccharide capsule that binds heavy metal ions such as cadmium, copper and lead.
In the long run this material may be useful for cleaning sites contaminated by toxic metals.

Thermochemical studies let us determine which metals the polysaccharide binds most strongly.
Measuring the enthalpy (DeltaH) of a reaction gives us the strength of the bond,
and measuring the equilibrium constant (K) for a reaction tells us the extent of binding.
We looked at the properties of a variety of metal (II) ions as well as the simple sugar units which make up the polysaccharide to understand why the polysaccharide prefers certain metals.

related publications:

J. E. Mihalick, W. P. Griffiths III*, J. E. Muten*, T. A. Olson*, J. B. Hein*, "Thermochemistry of Binding of Lead (II) and Cadmium (II) by Saccharides in Aqueous Solution." Journal of Solution Chemistry  28, 1025-1036 (1999).
D. L. Parker, J. E. Mihalick, J. L. Plude, M. J. Plude,T. P. Clark*, L. Egan, J. J. Flom*, L.C. Rai, H.D. Kumar, "Sorption of metals by extracellular polymers from the cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa  f. flos-aquae  strain C3-40." Journal of Applied Phycology  12, 219-224 (2000).

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by Jennifer Mihalick last modified Apr 23, 2018 05:08 PM