Demonstrating the Glass Transition of Polylactic Acid with a Rattle

Polylactic acid (PLA) exhibits a glass transition from hard and brittle to soft and rubbery when immersed in boiling water. PLA-based structures containing a small metal object can be used as rattles when they are shaken. The sound of the rattles change when they are heated above or cooled below their glass transition, enabling them to be used as demonstrations.

Demo A Day IV

Dean Campbell uses demonstrations and props to illustrate concepts while teaching his collegiate Materials Chemistry course. Many of the examples described are also suitable for use in high school and collegiate General Chemistry courses. 

Ice Clouds 2.0

What is some of the chemistry involved in the formation of ice clouds when boiling water is thrown into icy air?

Unit Cells and Layer Sequences using Dimpled Packaging

Regularly dimpled trays such as those used in food packaging can be used to represent layers of atoms in solid structures. For example, the square array of dimples in transparent plastic mini quiche trays can be used to depict layers within cubic or tetragonal unit cells. Multiple solid structures and ways to represent those structures are described. 

Chemical Activities Involving Reversible Thermochromic Pigments

The color of a thermochromic system depends on its temperature. The colors of leuco dye-based systems can also be influenced by adding acids or bases to the thermochromic reactions. These can be used to create colorful demonstrations of acid-base chemistry. Thermochromism found in color changing cups can also be used to visualize heat flow, and therefore thermodynamic principles, associated with stretching and contracting elastomers.