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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 12 Issue 1 (2007) pp 15-17

Electrochemical Light: Putting Modern Technology Into the Hands of Students

Edward Bolton, Bryan Breyfogle, Annette Gordon and Mark M. Richter*

Department of Chemistry, Missouri State University, Springfield, MO 65897,
Received May 10, 2006. Accepted November 4, 2006.

Published online: 25 January 2007

Abstract. Electrogenerated chemiluminescence (ECL) involves the production of light near an electrode surface by the generation of species that can undergo highly energetic electron transfer reactions. A laboratory is presented for use in lower-level chemistry courses including courses for nonscience majors. This laboratory uses Cu(dmp)2+ (dmp = 2,9-dimethyl-1,10-pheanthroline) as the light emitting molecule and tri-n-propylamine (C9H21N) as a coreactant (i.e., a species capable of generating a strong reductant upon oxidation). A semi-automated commercial instrument designed for clinical diagnostic testing is used to measure the ECL. An objective of this experiment is to provide students with a technology-enhanced laboratory experience and have students develop an understanding and appreciation for the technological world of science. Also, this exercise facilitates discussions on the importance of basic research and the practical aspects of taking a technology from the bench top to commercial reality.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; general chemistry; electrogenerated chemiluminescence, coreactant ECL, copper

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (55 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:

Three supporting files are available: A laboratory handout, a laboratory prelaboratory tutorial created with PowerPoint and saved as a pdf file, and the laboratory prelaboratory tutorial as the original PowerPoint file. These can be downloaded in a Zip file (536 KB).

Issue date: February 1, 2007

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