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CSHL science tools at work: Rotovap

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This is the first in a series of videos about the cool science tools used by scientists every day at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL).

CSHL Professor John E. Moses is a chemist whose laboratory synthesizes novel molecules using a form of green (relatively efficient and clean) chemistry, called click chemistry. His team discovers new materials, therapeutic drugs, and tools for biology.

CSHL postdoc chemist Joshua Homer demonstrates how the Moses lab purifies molecules they synthesize using the rotating evaporator. The machine, which they usually call the “rotovap”, can separate a mixture of two different chemicals, removing a more volatile liquid from a less volatile liquid or solid. Alternatively, the machine can remove all solvents from a solution, leaving only the solids behind. The machine applies heat and vacuum to the system, keeping the temperature even by rotating the round container. The liquid chemical with the lower boiling point evaporates from the first container. The evaporated vapor condenses onto a cooled, twisted coil and drips into a collection container below. What is left behind in the first container is what the scientists were trying to purify.

Read the related story: Polymers “click” together using green chemistry