Last Friday (6th July) our year 12 chemistry students enjoyed a fabulous experience as Tracy McGhie and Emma Palin from the University of Leicester brought the Royal Society of Chemistry’s ‘Spectroscopy in a Suitcase’ to Hucknall Sixth Form Centre.
Our students worked in pairs to try to identify mystery substances, using sophisticated analytical equipment that would usually only be available in universities and professional laboratories. They used infrared spectroscopy and mass spectroscopy to work out what chemicals had been left behind at a fictional crime scene and bring the culprit to justice!
Equipment like this is often used by the police at festivals to identify unknown substances, in Formula 1 teams to analyse the purity and composition of engine oil, by food manufacturers as a form of quality control and pharmaceutical companies to confirm that the product they have made is exactly what they claim it is.
The session allowed students to put the theory they have been learning about into practice – they analysed results from samples they had prepared themselves, and then used other forensic evidence to determine the substance that had killed the victim, identifying who was responsible for it.
Thank you to the team from the University of Leicester for joining us and providing such a great opportunity.