[below text is an excerpt from C&EN Magazine written by Carmen Drahl]
Demands for colorful, cheap, and diverse dyes drove the transformation of chemistry into a modern science. To some, it may seem like dyestuffs are the stuff of times past. A dye collection recently donated to a university, however, might show that these compounds still hold the key to some cutting-edge chemistry problems.
Eastman Chemical has donated a dye collection spanning 50 years of the company’s research, beginning in the 1940s, to North Carolina State University. The library includes vials filled with vibrant powders, each meticulously hand-labeled; coordinating envelopes stuffed with dyed fabric swatches and testing data; and post-World War II intelligence reports on the German dye industry. The collection is named for the late Max A. Weaver, a longtime Eastman research leader who made the library his life’s work.
“This dye collection is a research treasure trove,” says David Hinks, director of the university’s Forensic Sciences Institute. NC State has agreed to build a digital database of the approximately 98,000 compounds. All of the structures, previously trade secrets, will become available to the public on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s ChemSpider database.
Kelsey Boes, one of our current PhD students, took her enthusiasm for strong science communication to DC. With degrees in both chemistry and studio art, Kelsey passionate about both science and design. What truly excites her is not only discoveries but also sharing them in dynamic and thoughtful ways. As an undergraduate, Kelsey travelled to the 246th American Chemical Society (ACS) National Conference to present her work and became aware of the complex and prohibitive way research is often shared at such events. "Science, as a field," Kelsey admits, "has the reputation of being difficult and uninteresting," but she believes this can be remedied by presenting information in a more diverse variety of forms, specifically graphics. "Convincing visuals," she says, "excel at engaging viewers of all backgrounds."
Wanting to put these ideas into practice, Kelsey set a goal to share a poster at the ACS Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference this past summer, redesigning the mass spectrometer schema used by Vinueza Labs into a visually expressive teaching tool. She applied for and received a competitive NSF Scholars travel scholarship to attend a green chemistry workshop and to present her work in biofuels at the opening session of the 19th American Chemical Society Chemistry & Engineering Conference in Washington, DC this past June. Below you can find her graphic representation of her biofuel analysis project.
Project Summary: Economic success of a biofuel refinery requires efficiency at every step. This includes analyzing byproducts for potential value and reuse. One such byproduct is the water stream produced after pretreatment, labelled as autohydrolyzate, which contains several valuable organic derivatives of hemicellulose and lignin from within the biomass. Unfortunately, this mixture is highly complex and difficult to analyze fully with just one instrument. However, mass spectrometry (MS) with its high sensitivity and versatility can be a very useful tool in the analysis of these complex mixtures. We explored the use of dopants—sodium hydroxide and ammonium chloride—in electrospray ionization in combination with tandem MS/MS for characterization.
Yufei Chen, the longest standing member of the group, received his Master's Degree in July 2015. His project explored fragmentation pathways of anthroquinone-based dyes from the Eastman Dye Library bequeathed to the NC State College of Textiles in 2013. Yufei's work confirmed and corrected the vast database of dye structures through careful mass spectrometric analysis. He is excited to begin work on his PhD under Dr. Vinueza and Dr. Freeman.