We just got a new stereo microscope, the Meiji EMZ-5TR zoom stero microscope, with PBH stand and polarization accessories. Such microscope system is useful for detecting and viewing birefringent materials.
Why do we need to have the microscope? Very so often, we need to look at the crystals to make sure that they are of good quality before we send them to our wonderful collaborator, Dr Maren Pink at IUMSC. In the past, we were able to use the microscope at the Crystallography facility located in the basement of the same building, with a very convenient access. With the former facility director, we even had permission to have a key to the facility, so we can use the microscope any time, in particular after the facility operating hours! Lately, this has became a hassle. We no longer have the key and very often we were unable to get to the microscope because the door to the facility were locked, even during the regular working hours. When we asked for permission to have the key, the facility director asked the higher-up for the general policy. Finally, we were told that we could have the key with the condition that we would be “responsible for any facility problems on a given evening or weekend” Oh, c’mon!!! Slow moving and lack of competitiveness in the heartland may not be that uncommon, but the lack of trust? It would be better for us not to be involved in such deal. For under $1700 we could get the microscope with polarizing accessories, a reticle (eyepiece micrometer) and a spare light bulb from the Capital Microscope Service (CMS). We hope to get the camera accessories in the future so we take some pictures of the crystals send them to Dr. Pink for consultations before we send the crystals to her. Of course, we will show off those interesting picture here too.
Anyway, when the microscope package arrived, it took no time for us to assemble all the components together, except for one thing, the reticle…where to place it? The documentation came with the package did not include information about the reticle at all. This may be trivial to a lot people… it should go to the eyepiece… but how? Thanks to the WWW, Google and those who put together many useful informations out there. We found the website, microbus, and the problem solved. There are lots of chemistry website and blogs with interesting and useful informations…we hope to make contribution to the community too.
X-ray crystallography is one of the valuable research tools, among NMR, MS, EPR, and SQUID magnetometry, routinely employ in our group. Generally, we rely on NMR and MS for structure determinations of the most important reaction intermediates and products. For new compound, we would try to crystallize them for x-ray analysis to confirm the structures. The recent case of diazaannulene (read the discussion about it here) reminds us once again the importance of x-ray structure determination. In our experience, x-ray crystallography has proven to be essential in the synthesis of novel chiral π conjugated systems (see SynLett Account, DOI:10.1055/s-2007-984538). In some cases, our synthetic problems were resolved by obtaining x-ray structures of the “unkown” reaction products obtained unexpectedly, which helped us to understand and to change the synthetic strategy. Publication of such case will be forthcoming.