Microscale Chemistry


Before 1996 all experiments in the basic course in organic chemistry were performed in conventional scale, that is the reagents were in ml/gram-scale and the volume of the solvents had a range of 5 ml to 50 ml. This generated a huge amount of waste, both solid waste and solvents. In order to decrease this amount and at the same time lower the costs for the course, experiments in microscale technique were tested in the beginning of 1996. After testing on two laboration groups 1996, the whole experimental course in basic organic chemistry with 110 students was performed successfully 1997 in microscale technique. We ended up with 40 good working microscale experiments. We also developed a new microdestillation device for destillation of small amounts of product.

Most of the new experiments were re-scaling of already existing experiments into microscale. Some of the new experiments were taken from literature and a few experiments were developed at the department.

The practical course is divided into five parts:

Each part contain between 6 and 10 experiments and we have tried to use related compounds in these experiments. For example p-Nitrobensylaldehyde is reduced to the alcohol in one experiment and oxidized to the carboxylic acid in an other experiment.

Laboratory manual

Since the course was totally changed a new laboratory manual was needed. This new laboratory manual can be picked up on this link:
Laboratory manual (As a PDF document in Swedish)
A description and a picture of the new microdestillation device can be viewed on this link:
Microdestillation device

Links to Microscale Sites

If you want more information about microscale chemistry and experiments, the following links are worth looking at.
McMaster University - Chem2O06 Lab Manual (Microscale techniques)
NMC2 Merrimack College, Andover, Massachusetts
Microschaalexperimenten van de Universiteit van Amsterdam (Dutch)


We can also recommend some books about microscale chemistry where inspiration, ideas and new experiments can be found. These are:

A good article about microscale is available in Kemisk Tidskrift (in swedish) 12-13/1994, p 40-42. There are also many interesting articles in Journal of Chemical Education about microscale techniques and possible experiments. One part of the journal use to have microscale techniques and experiments as a theme.

If you have any further questions, don´t hesitate to mail us.