Implementation of Gas Chromatography and Microscale Distillation into the General Chemistry Laboratory Curriculum as Vehicles for Examining Intermolecular Forces

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As part of an NSF-funded Course Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) project that seeks, in part, to increase student exposure to scientific instrumentation, a gas chromatography experiment has been integrated into the second-semester general chemistry laboratory curriculum. The experiment uses affordable, commercially available equipment and materials. It also parallels the corresponding lecture topics, reinforcing the concept of intermolecular forces (and exposing the structural basis of these forces) through the drawing of Lewis structures, microscale distillation, and gas chromatography. Group presentations end the laboratory session, exposing all students to the entirety of analytical data obtained by their peers. Students respond favorably to the exercise, citing use of the gas chromatograph as interesting and the group presentations as highly beneficial to their understanding of the material.