Chemical “Luminol”escence

The synthesis of Luminol is a great final experiment to cap off a year of organic chemistry laboratory work. It’s a relatively “old” experiment, I did it as in undergraduate. (Adapted from Experiment 48: Luminol, in Pavia, Lampman and Kriz, “Introduction to Organic Laboratory Techniques: A Contemporary Approach” (1976) Saunders.) The procedure involves a two-step reaction so its fairly involved. The chemiluminscent results are impressive, a very different outcome than the usual white solid or clear liquid products that need to be extensively characterized. Luminol is synthesized, reacted while still wet to give a dramatic display of luminescence and that is the end of it. If the glow does not appear immediately vigorous shaking of the crude luminol, KOH, DMSO, and oxygen luminol2will eventually start the luminescent reaction. The only problem we’ve had is breakage. Maybe it’s the combination of Bunsen burners, test tubes, and thermometers; or maybe students are just getting careless during the last lab. I haven’t come up with many ways to extend the experiment. One could add dyes to the luminol to change the color of the luminosity or try different methods of inducing the luminol + oxygen reaction.

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