LabTales 2013, Number 1 - Newspaper Ink Dyes From An Artificial Sweetner

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by Alex Gamso

I am Alex Gamso, a 2013 senior at Niles High School with plans to attend the University of Michigan next fall to study mechanical engineering. During my free time I enjoy volunteering, blogging, and traveling.

When I first heard that we would be doing individual research, I was sort of worried about messing up. In 10th grade chemistry we worked with partners and everyone was doing the same exact experiment with the same expected results. If your group messed up, you’d just observe another group. However, doing our own research different from anyone else in lab, on projects never researched before, has led us to be more individually responsible, thoughtful and careful as young chemists.

I am synthesizing the dyes found in your daily newspaper print ink that are used specifically to keep the black pigment from fading to brown. The combinations of reagent solutions and solids that I am using in this project has not been done before. I was very eager to see the colors they would create. I find it ‘crazy’ that I am taking several clear and colorless liquids and one white solid to create a colorful and strong dye. Even ‘crazier,’ I am taking saccharin, an artificial sweetener, to create colors and pigments – a sweetner being used to make red, blue, and green colors. So cool.

One thing I have learned from my time in the lab, is that it will always have a different smell. Between everyone making perfumes and the strong odor of acetone and other chemicals, the lab always has a different smell, sometimes good, but most of the time not!

Beyond that, I have gained the ability to conduct independent research. During the beginning of the course I always had questions about my procedure and the equipment, but now I am able to complete the sentences of some of the lab assistants and my professor. I will definitely remember this course and all the amazing experiments, friends, and experience.