The Chemistry Lab
The chemistry laboratory is where students experience the dynamic field of chemistry firsthand. Modern technology has transformed the chemistry lab and allows students at all levels to explore the molecular world in ways once accessible only to premier research scientists.
North Park’s chemistry lab courses encourage inquiry-based critical thinking rather than rote direction following. In addition, the department continues to improve experiments so they align with the principles of green chemistry—reducing and preventing chemical waste, using safe, less toxic chemicals, increasing energy efficiency, and minimizing the potential for accidents in the lab. All of this boils down to creating experiments that are environmentally friendly and inherently safer for all. (Chemistry students interested in green chemistry and environmental science principles are encouraged to take CHEM 2510: Introductory Environmental Chemistry.)
Modern instrumentation is also an essential component of chemistry and the lab experience, allowing chemists to analyze and probe the properties of atoms and molecules. Starting with the LabQuest system, allowing introductory chemistry students to gather chemical reaction data in real time, North Park’s classes give students at all levels hands-on experience with state-of-the-art equipment and the opportunity to engage in complex experiments.
In addition, the Chemistry Department has been actively acquiring new instrumentation to increase the complexity at which students can work, and prepare undergraduates for what they’ll experience in graduate school or working as chemists. Currently, our labs utilize:
- Flash chromatography system (added in 2012)
- Miniature Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometer (added in 2011)
- Perkin Elmer Spectrum 100 FTIR with Diamond ATR
- Perkin Elmer Clarus 400 Gas Chromatograph with dual columns and TCD and FID detectors
- Two Ocean Optics CCD-array UV-VIS spectrometers with fiber optic inputs
- High-end computational Gaussian 03 software
The department will add more large-scale equipment after moving into the Nancy and G. Timothy Johnson Center for Science and Community Life, opening in Fall 2014. Anticipated additions include instrumentation for Total Reflection X-ray Fluorescence (TXRF) and a full-size Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometer.