Azo dyes synthesis demonstrations for education purposes

Vaclav Verner 1*
1 Breck School, Ottawa Ave N 123, Golden Valley, MN, United States of America
* Corresponding author:
Key words:
azo compounds, chemistry education, organic chemistry for high-school and undergraduate students.
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Practical organic chemistry is one of the least accessible subjects to study in high school laboratories, due to high cost demands on organic chemicals and equipement. The objective of this project was to design and carry out an easily replicable synthesis for students to try out or for educators to demonstrate. The resulting 4-step 5-reaction synthesis, which uses well-known as well as alternative reactions, but only cheap and accessible reagents produces a diazonium dye which can be demonstrated by its pH-measuring properties.
Organic chemistry plays a vital role in modern-say society. From a part in material chemistry all the way to saving our health or using biodegradable plastic, organic synthesis gives us access to compounds that can bring life, death, and everything in between. Since medicinal research is a rapidly growing field due to an ever-increasing need for therapeutics, it is important not only to support current researchers and research in medicinal research and organic synthesis, but to invest in future generations of chemists. This paper focuses on accessible parts of organic chemistry which can be demonstrated to students even in less-equipped high schools, and students can even try this research themselves given its more simple character. This paper also demonstrates possible failures that a researcher might encounter on their pathway to success and how to overcome them. This paper discusses a method to create ethyl 3-(2',4'-dihydroxyphenylazo)benzoate, a complex azo dye, from simple organic building blocks – resorcinol (1,3-benzenediol) and benzoic acid. Organic conversions to more and more complex molecules together with nice demonstrations of properties of final azo dye, which can serve as a pH indicator, can be exciting even for students that are just starting in research. The variety of molecules that students get to experience while working through this method is numerous, from amines and carboxylates, to air and water sensitive compounds and encourages organic chemistry thinking and skill. This paper is also focused on low cost and accessibility suitable for usage in high school chemistry curriculum.
Václav Verner is a student at the PORG Libeň High School in Prague. He is currently interested in organic chemistry and biochemical research. When he was able to secure a year-long study abroad trip in the United States at Breck School in Golden Valley, MN, USA he was able to work on organic chemistry in Breck’s chemistry lab to try and strengthen his knowledge in practical organic chemistry. His overall knowledge in chemistry has earned him a golden medal at the International Chemistry Olympiad 2022, and he is planning to continue studying organic synthesis in the future.