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SOAR Spotlight: Alex Sestok '16

Determining Enthalpy Change (∆H) For Luminol (3-aminophthalhydrazide) With Hydrogen peroxide

Major/Minor: Chemistry major, Mathematics minor
Hometown: Palmerton, PA
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Carl Salter

Briefly describe your project.

Luminol is a well-known chemical because of its use in forensics. Upon reaction with Hydrogen Peroxide and a metal catalyst, a fluorescent product (3-Aminophthalate) is formed. This chemiluminescent reaction gives off heat, otherwise known as enthalpy. I have been studying and analyzing this reaction to determine the value of the enthalpy and what factors are contributing to it.

How did your faculty advisor guide you through your research?

Working with Dr. Salter has been very rewarding. I have learned a great deal about fluorescence, which I would not have learned in a classroom setting. I have learned numerous lab skills and how to operate instruments on my own. I also became more familiar with conducting research and formulating research ideas.

What was your biggest obstacle?

Throughout the course of the project, there have been problems with instruments working properly.

What was your biggest takeaway from this experience?

The biggest takeaway from SOAR has been the experience that I gained using the instruments.

What was the result of your project? Was it congruent with your hypothesis?

So far, we have determined an experimental value for enthalpy but we have not determined an accurate value. We have determined that there are only two reactions contributing to the enthalpy: the reaction of Luminol with Hydrogen Peroxide and the dissociation of Hydrogen Peroxide.

Will you expand on your research after this summer is over? If so, where would you like to see it go?

I will be continuing my project after SOAR is over for my Honors project. I would like to finish the project and determine the enthalpy for the reaction. If possible, we would like to extend this research to other chemiluminescent reactions.