Maureen Desmond photo/SJHS

Fun lab with Nylon

by Jefferson Wu - Tuesday, April 18, 2017

When it first entered the public consciousness in 1938, nylon claimed a novelty no other product could match. Its predecessor, rayon, had been touted as “artificial silk,” a phrase that implied both economy and imitation.[1]

Without touching organic chemistry, I will never have thought about making nylon by myself. Under Ms. Morrell’s supervision and instruction, my IB Chemistry class has been synthesized nylon to practice what we learned in the class. After pouring the mixture of sebacoyl chloride and hexane over the amine solution without mixing those two, the nylon was pulled out from the interface of those two solutions by using tweezers thus being rolled onto a paper towels cardboard for collection.


The process of pulling was long because those two solutions were keeping reacting when the newer interfaces were formed as the older ones were gone; the entire lab was done when one of those two solutions run out. By the way, the result I had achieved eventually was about 2 well-wrapped paper towels cardboard of nylon, showing slightly green because of the pigment’s contribution.

The best thing about chemistry is that you will be able to make some knowledge that you have learned real, rather than staying on the theoretical level. I myself was always excited to observe those color changes, precipitations, and presences of crystals in any kinds of lab experiments. I used to doubt that Ms. Morrell was always saying that organic chemistry is more interesting than the remaining chemistry part, but the appearance of nylon in this lab forced me to agree with her.

[1] https://www.chemheritage.org/distillations/magazine/nylon-a-revolution-in-textiles

Switch to Full Size List View

Switch to Full Size List View