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Week 7 July 28-August 1

It's August! And its rather scary how quickly the end of my internship is coming up, especially since I don't think I've come up with a whole lot except for finding out what doesn't work well. It feels like my project is becoming more method development--to find a decent, reproducible way to make MnO2 electrodes that can consistently measure H2O2. Only when this method is developed can the differences between the biogenic MnO2 and synthetic MnO2 really be observed.

Halfway through this week I realized that a big part of what I have been trying to do has already been done...should've done more literary review before I got knee deep into my experiments! At any rate, there seem to be lots of different methods, but its a matter of working with what I have, and optimizing the method for my purposes.

So the hardest class in high school that I ever took was pottery, and strangely enough, its coming back to haunt me! The new method of the week (it seems like I'm trying a new method every week anyway) is spin coating! Basically its this technique where I drip a certain amount of MnO2 solution onto the tip of a glassy carbon electrode. A vacuum pump holds my electrode in place, and I can spin it at a set speed--the faster it goes, the more MnO2 flies off, and the thinner the coat is (and vice versa). But before that fun can happen, I have to center my electrode. I don't know if you've ever had to undergo the torment of trying to center a piece of clay for a bowl/pot/dish/anything-you-make-in-pottery on a pottery wheel, but it's REALLY HARD. And I was terrible (I mean really terrible.) Centering my electrode eerily reminds me of it--only its slightly better because I don't get covered in clay, its a little easier, and I don't have to stay after class, come in during my lunch period, or skip other classes to make up for my inability to do it.

But aside from that, the process seems to actually make a fairly consistent electrode, and I'm working on techniques now to make it just right! Earlier this week was spent on figuring out how I was going to get an evenly suspended MnO2 solution, and so far its looking ok! I really hope this works, otherwise my summer's worth of work might only look like a series of failures! Three more weeks for me to get it right!