Teaching & Research Labs

OWU’s Department of Chemistry features seven modern laboratories for classroom research and four dedicated labs for use in independent research with faculty. The facilities are designed to expedite work-flow and promote collaboration.

State-of-the-Art Mac Lab

All chemistry students have access to the department’s computer lab, which has 25 iMac computers and a printer. The computer lab is designed to facilitate classroom instruction, group work, and student presentation. The computers have software for computational chemistry, molecular modeling, and data analysis. Each can run Mac and Windows operating systems.

NMR Spectrometer

The nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer is used in structure determination and in discerning the identity of chemical samples. NMR spectroscopy is based on disturbing the equilibrium population of the quantum spin states of nuclei in a strong magnetic field through irradiation with radio waves. The department maintains a Bruker Avance 300MHz FT-NMR to which students have nearly unrestricted access to beginning in their sophomore year. The organic chemistry laboratory curriculum devotes substantial time to allow students to use the NMR.

Dry Box

The dry box is housed in the inorganic chemistry laboratory. It makes it possible to handle reagents and to carry out reactions that require inert atmosphere conditions.

Cold Room

The biochemistry laboratory features a walk-in cold room that provides a reduced-temperature environment for work with proteins or other species that need to be handled at lower temperatures.


High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is used to separate two or more components of a liquid sample. High pressures of a carrier liquid are used to transport the sample through a column to partition the constituents between the carrier and the surface of the column, which different components will attach to differentially based on their polarity. The HPLC can assist in the determination of the composition of the sample, as different components go through the column at different rates. The department maintains a Rainin HPLC that is equipped with a Varian Prostar UV/Vis detector to assist in identification and quantification of the concentrations of the components. Students learn to use this instrument at the sophomore level.

Gas Chromatographs

Gas chromatography separates components of a volatile liquid mixture by taking advantage of differences in boiling points and, to some extent, differences in polarities. It can assist in the determination of the composition of a sample as well as establish the relative amounts of components of a sample. The department has four Shimadzu GC-14A gas chromatographs equipped with flame ionization detectors. Students learn to use this instrument at either the freshman or sophomore level.

Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer

A mass spectrometer measures the mass/charge ratio of samples that have been ionized. This information can be used to assist identification of the components of a sample. By attaching a gas chromatograph before the mass spectrometer, the components of a mixture can be separated and analyzed independently by mass. The department maintains a Shimazu QP5000 Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GC/MS) that features electron-impact ionization and a quadrupole mass spectrometer. It is fitted with an robotic sampler for automated and unattended operation. The GC/MS is used extensively in organic and analytical chemistry classes.

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer

Infrared (IR) spectroscopy exposes samples to a broad band of infrared radiation. The sample absorbs certain frequencies of the infrared light, corresponding to certain vibrational and bending modes of molecules. The frequencies absorbed can be interpreted as indicative of the presence of certain functional groups in molecules, as different functional groups have different vibrational modes. The Department of Chemistry maintains three IR spectrometers including a Thermo-Nicolet Nexus 670 FT-IR, a Thermo-Niclolet Avatar 360 FT-IR, and a Nicolet 210 FT-IR. IR spectroscopy is used in the general chemistry, organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, and physical chemistry courses.

Diode Array UV/Vis Spectrometer

Ultraviolet/visible (UV/Vis) spectroscopy measures the light absorptions by molecules due to electronic excitations in the ultraviolet and visible regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. It can assist in identification, concentration determination, and kinetic studies. UV/Vis spectroscopy is used in general chemistry, biochemistry, analytical chemistry, and organic chemistry. The department maintains three HP8453 UV/Vis spectrometers, one of which is equipped with an HP 89090A temperature control module for temperature-dependent studies.


The fluorimeter records the emissions of electromagnetic radiation (fluorescence) of a compound after the compound is exposed to light. This is useful in analytical studies of the presence of fluorescent minerals and determining concentrations of florescent compounds. The department’s fluorimeter is a Perkin Elmer LS-45.

Atomic Absorption Spectrometer

Atomic absorption spectroscopy is used to determine the identity and concentration of one or more metal elements in a chemical sample. The sample is atomized by a flame, and it is then illuminated by light. The atoms in the sample will absorb some of the light, corresponding to electronic transitions characteristic to each element. The department has one Varian SpectrAA 220. Students learn to use this instrument in upper-level chemistry courses.


The Beckman L7-35 Ultracentrifuge can achieve an acceleration of 107 times Earth’s gravity by spinning samples at 15,000 to 35,000 rpm. It is used in recovery of cell components, preparation of protein samples, and colloid research.