Checks and Balances: Transferring Solids and Liquids on the Microscale


Working on the microscale has many advantages. Workups take less time and are easy to do in parallel, heating and cooling is much more efficient, and 200 mg of intermediate lasts 10-20 reactions or more. I’ve already covered my favourite glassware for such reactions in an earlier post (vial chem), but there’s a whole set of skills necessary for measuring trace amounts of material that don’t come into play on the gram scale.


Solids to be weighed generally fall into one of three categories. The easiest to work with are small, free flowing granules that slide from spatula to weigh paper to vessel without leaving significant traces behind (potassium carbonate is a typical example). Crystalline materials are a little more challenging, as stray static charge usually holds them to both spatula and weigh paper, necessitating a quick rinse to “help” the residue into the reaction vessel. Gummy solids and…

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