More amazing lab experiences
The second part of the prize for the competition winners was a day at Reading Scientific Services Limited, which Alexandre recapped.
To start the day off, we had a quick chat and round of introductions. We were then given goggles and a lab coat, ready to explore the microscopy department on the University of Reading campus. There, we prepared various samples on microscope slides and, using various pieces of equipment, we were able to analyse them.
One of the coolest high-tech instruments that we were shown was an infrared spectrometer, which we used to produce a spectrum for a piece of plastic that each of us had brought to determine the exact molecule it was made of. It turned out that my sample, from a little owl onto which I put my glasses at night, was made of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).
Following this, we had lunch with some free ice cream! In the afternoon, we had a quick tour of the lipids department in which we saw a titration. This was particularly interesting, as we had done several titration experiments at school and to see how this was set up and used in industry was fascinating.
Finally, we had a general tour of the RSSL facilities and it was exciting to see the wide range of activities going on supporting many real-life projects of direct interest to industry.
I really enjoyed this day at RSSL, which made me appreciate that chemistry is far more than just a subject at school and university or even a research domain. It consists of a range of operational methods and equipment and these underpin many critical aspects, especially in the food industry. Without chemistry, the chocolate bars we have or the drinks we enjoy would maybe not exist.