Reinforcing the "Heath and Wellness" theme of National Chemistry Week 2004, the featured molecules for this month are all found in commercial sunscreens, or in the synthesis of sunscreen materials. The paper by Stabile and Dicks introduces students of organic chemistry to the synthesis of cinnamate esters used in sunscreen products. Several of the papers referenced by those authors, most notably a paper by Doris Kimbrough (J. Chem. Educ. 1997, 74, 51?53), present the structures of additional sunscreen components. Although the details of the synthesis are beyond the scope of most introductory courses, these molecules present an excellent opportunity for introducing students to the absorption of radiation that is far more relevant to their lives than the line spectra of hydrogen and other atoms. Such a discussion could be extended to include more delocalized dyes such as those frequently studied in physical chemistry courses as a test of particle-in-a-box models, and students could be asked about those molecules as sunscreens, which raises an interesting intersection between aesthetics and spectroscopy.
(Interactive Simulation (1))