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40 Journal Articles
16 Other Resources
Journal Articles: First 3 results.
Analysis of Peppermint Leaf and Spearmint Leaf Extracts by Thin-Layer Chromatography  Libbie S. W. Pelter, Andrea Amico, Natalie Gordon, Chylah Martin, Dessalyn Sandifer, and Michael W. Pelter
In this inquiry-based activity, the usefulness of thin-layer chromatography to visualize the difference between spearmint and peppermint is explored.
Pelter, Libbie S. W.; Amico, Andrea; Gordon, Natalie; Martin, Chylah; Sandifer, Dessalyn; Pelter, Michael W. J. Chem. Educ. 2008, 85, 133.
Natural Products |
Plant Chemistry |
Thin Layer Chromatography
The Chemical Composition of Maple Syrup  David W. Ball
Explores the complex chemical composition of maple syrup.
Ball, David W. J. Chem. Educ. 2007, 84, 1647.
Descriptive Chemistry |
Food Science |
Plant Chemistry |
Natural Products |
Solutions / Solvents
More Thoughts on the Narra Tree Fluorescence  A. Ulises Acuña
The source of L. nephriticum and the substance responsible for the intense blue fluorescence in an earlier published demonstration may require further consideration.
Acuña, A. Ulises. J. Chem. Educ. 2007, 84, 231.
Fluorescence Spectroscopy |
Natural Products |
Plant Chemistry |
Solutions / Solvents |
UV-Vis Spectroscopy |
Acids / Bases
View all 40 articles
Other Resources: First 3 results
Molecular Models of Leaf Extracts  William F. Coleman
Our Featured Molecules this month come from the paper by Pelter et. al. on the analysis of leaf extracts by thin-layer chromatography (1). As the authors discuss, their experiment may be used in courses at various levels of the curriculum. The molecules discussed in the paper are also of wide interest both for their structural properties and their wide-ranging appearance in both natural and synthetic substances. Included in the molecule collection are all of the isomers for the molecules pictured in the text with the exception of menthyl acetate, for which only one structure is given (see below). All of these molecules have been optimized at the HF/631-G(d) level. The menthol family enantiomeric pairs of menthol, isomenthol, neomenthol and neoisomenthol provide a rich yet coherent group of molecules on which to base discussion of chirality, enantiomers and diastereomers. Treadwell and Black have described some of the differences in physical properties of four members of this family, and several other experiments using one or more menthols have been published in this Journal (2, 3). I have created a Web page in which the eight molecules are embedded in no particular order, and with no rational file names. This is being used in at least one of our organic sections to give students experience at identifying enantiomers, and diastereomers, and in applying R/S notation (4). As access to computational software becomes more common, and as efforts are being made to incorporate more relevant modeling experiments into all levels of the curriculum, the menthols again present some interesting possibilities. While students at the organic level know about enantiomers differing in their optical rotation, and about chiral molecules interacting with chiral and achiral environments, it is instructive for them to think of other ways in which enantiomers and diastereomers are the same or different. Three useful ways of checking to see whether two structures are truly enantiomers is to compute their total energies, vibrational spectra, and dipole moments. These calculations are available in most common computational packages. Figure 1 shows the results of energy calculations on optimized structures of the eight isomers. The enantiomeric pairs have, as expected, exactly the same total energy, while the various diastereomers differ in energy. The computation of the vibrational spectra is a very sensitive probe to determine whether two structures are optimized and enantiomeric or not. Structures that are almost enantiomeric, but not quite optimized, may exhibit similar energies, but the low frequency vibrations will be sensitive to any deviation from optimization. If two supposedly enantiomeric structures do not have the same computed vibrations, or if either shows a negative frequency, the structures need to be optimized more carefully. As with the vibrational frequencies, enantiomers should show identical dipole moments. Only one structure of the eight isomers in the menthyl acetate family is included in the collection, giving students the chance to build the other seven and verify their computed properties. Because of the central role that chirality plays in chemistry, and particularly in biochemistry, it seems appropriate to introduce some of these visualization and modeling exercises early in the curriculum, and in courses designed for students majoring in other areas. Students in various courses could pursue other aspects of these same molecules including odor and cooling properties, and green chemistry approaches to synthesizing menthols.
Plant Chemistry
Molecular Models of Resveratrol  William F. Coleman
The featured molecules this month are from the paper "Resveratrol Photoisomerization: An Integrative Guided-Inquiry Experiment" by Bernard, Gernigon, and Britz-McKibbin exploring trans to cis photoisomerization in resveratrol. Examination of Figure 1 in that paper, where the hydrogen atoms have been omitted, might lead one to conclude that the structures are relatively straightforward. These isomers provide students an excellent opportunity to test their ability to take a two-dimensional representation and envision the three-dimensional structure of the molecule and to consider the competing factors that might lead to the three-dimensional structures being non-planar. The two-dimensional models focus attention on the possibility of extended pi-electron delocalization. Addition of the hydrogen atoms clearly suggests that delocalization will compete with non-bonded H-H repulsions in the cis isomer. Further examination of the trans isomer shows that such non-bonded interactions are, in what one might call a first-order approximation, like those in biphenyl interactions that lead biphenyl to be non-planar in both the gas phase and in a variety of solvents. The backbone of the trans isomer of resveratrol, trans-stilbene, has been the subject of a number of theoretical and experimental investigations (1, 2). In general, Hartree-Fock calculations predict a non-planar geometry for this molecule while Density Functional Calculations, using the same basis sets, predict an essentially planar structure. Spectroscopic evidence supports a temperature-dependent structure for trans-stilbene with the molecule being planar at low temperature and non-planar at high temperatures. Our calculations on trans-resveratrol produce similar results. Hartree-Fock calculations using the 6-31G** (6- 31G(d,p)) basis set predict a dihedral angle of approximately 24 degrees between each ring and the central carbon-carbon double bond. This result is consistent with the reported value of 23 degrees using the 6-31G* basis set. We also find that DFT calculations using the B3LYP functional and the 6- 31G** basis set, lead to a planar configuration. We include several versions of trans-stilbene and trans-resveratrol in the molecule collection so that students can explore these structural questions in more detail. For each molecule, structures obtained from PM3, HF(6-31G**), and DFT(B3LYP/6-31G**) calculations are included, as well as planar and non-planar structures of biphenyl. Measurement of the various bond and torsion angles using Jmol will help students develop a sense of the distance dependence of the non-bonded interactions and their importance in determining the actual structure. They might also wish to consider what additional degree(s) of freedom resveratrol and stilbene have that biphenyl does not, allowing the trans-form of the former molecules to remain planar under certain conditions, while minimizing the effect of the non-bonded repulsions.
Plant Chemistry |
Natural Products
Molecular Models of Lycopene and Other Carotenoids  William F. Coleman
Over the past decade or so the phrase emerging research suggests has entered the argot of advertising, and that phrase has been applied to this month's Featured Molecule, lycopene, particularly with regard to potential health benefits of tomatoes. The paper by Jie Zhu, Mingjie Zhang, and Qingwei Liu (1) describes an extraction and purification of lycopene from tomato paste using an emulsion rather than the traditional solvent-based extraction. Lycopene is a member of the family of molecules called carotenoids, the most familiar of which is beta-carotene. This family of natural products includes more than 500 members that have been isolated and whose structures have been determined. Professor Hanspeter Pfander's research group at the University of Bern maintains a Web site with a significant amount of information on carotenoid structure, synthesis, and activity (2). Structurally one can think of carotenoids as consisting of three segments, a relatively rigid conjugated central portion with end groups. The end groups are, in general, flexible with respect to rotation about the bond connecting them to the central portion. For example, in beta-carotene, the dependence of total energy on the dihedral angle shown in Figure 1, displays a very broad range of essentially isoenergetic conformations (Figure 2). The energies shown in Figure 2 were calculated at the PM3 level using Hyperchem 7.5 (3). Calculations at the HF/631-G(d,p) level, with many fewer data points, show a similar trend. Many of the health benefits derived from various carotenoids are attributed to their antioxidant activities. Carotenoids react with singlet-oxygen in a physical, diffusion-controlled, quenching process that results in ground state triplet-oxygen and, following a non-radiative relaxation, ground state carotenoid. Of the various carotenoids that have been studied, lycopene and beta-carotene show the greatest quenching rate constants (4). The carotenoids provide us with countless explorations by students and teachers looking for connections between fundamental chemical concepts and real-world applications. Structure, reactivity, chemical synthesis, biosynthesis, and stereochemistry are just a few of the concepts involved in understanding the manifest important roles that these molecules play.
Plant Chemistry |
Natural Products
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