This week was spent in the lab working to create a new protocol to complete a more successful separation of carbon nanotubes. I also was able to visit labs this week.
I had a wonderful time visiting labs this week. Now, I am able to better understand everyone’s research. Amazing, how everyone is working on such different projects. Sarah’s mentor did a great job of explaining their carbon nanotube lab to us. It was really cool seeing the possible applications of carbon nanotubes. Just like a fascinating look into the future.
The BRC labs were in a much more open space with collective sharing of equipment, very different than my self enclosed lab. Most members had a machine and process ready to present to us.
After our weekly meeting I was assigned a new task. To work with the new molecular weights to create an aqueous two phase separation of carbon nanotubes. I was having success following the protocol correctly with the original molecular weights. Using the new molecular weights affects the two phase separation in a large way. Following my original protocol there was no phase separation of the polymers. I tried reading more papers about different molecular weights. There were only a few available and even fewer articles about two phase separation of carbon nanotubes.
My mentor pushed me to list all of the parameters that could possible affect my separation. I created a list of about 15 different variables. It’s a hard challenge to try to create a protocol and only change one thing. What makes it difficult is that you see that it didn’t work so you want to start to make bigger changes. Later I learned that there are no protocols using these molecular weights and that it was recently uncovered. This is making the challenge even more difficult. I’m now trying to work out the new protocol.
- sometimes there are no papers to help you
- think of ALL of the small parameters that can be change
- change one small thing at a time
- use not only math but also your observations
- sometimes it’s okay to go with your instincts