Mercyhurst University

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Facilities and Instrumentation


Most of our labs have 16 or fewer students, and many also have undergraduate teaching assistants to make sure that each lab student gets the guidance they need to learn the modern techniques and concepts featured in our lab courses.

General Chemistry Lab

Our lab space for introductory chemistry courses includes an open floor plan with comfortable amounts of bench space for groups of students to work through experiments. The lab also includes fume cabinets for working with volatile chemicals, and the space is supplemented with a variety of specialized pieces of equipment for specific labs.

Organic Chemistry Lab

Organic labs take place in a dedicated room with 8 modern fume hoods that can easily accommodate 2 students working side-by-side on their experiments. The lab also has two demonstration hoods - 1 for prep work, and 1 for the rotary evaporator (rotovap). The lab is conveniently located near the NMR, GC-MS, and chemical storage areas.

Biochemistry Lab

The biochemistry lab was recently renovated to a dual use space that allows it to double as a classroom for upper division seminar courses, or for combined lab/lecture activities. The space includes all of the traditional aspects of an undergraduate biochemistry lab, but is also located adjacent to the departmental stock room and the biochemistry research space.



The department of chemistry and biochemistry currently houses the following instrumentation upon which students are trained in their coursework and are used extensively in student-centered research. These instruments are used continuously in Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Instrumental Analysis, and Quantitative Analysis

Atomic Absorption Spectrometer - Accusys 211

The AA is used primarily for the identification and quantification of metals in samples. Our AA is equipped with lamps to detect most metals including Hg and Pb.
Electrochemistry. The Chemistry and Biochemistry Department now has the capability to perform electrochemical analysis with the addition of a VersaStat III potentiostat with a computer interface.


The calorimeter is used to measure the combustion energy of chemical samples. We have an IKA C200 calorimeter that is used in our Thermodynamics course and for research.

Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) Spectroscopy

The DLS spectrometer is used to determine the size and abundance of colloidal solutions containing matter ranging in size from 4 nanometers - 2 microns in diameter. The instrument has a temperature-controlled sample compartment with a working range of 5 - 70 degrees Celsius. DLS is commonly used in the fields of materials chemistry and biochemistry for determining the sizes of nanoparticles and proteins under variable solution conditions.

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrophotometer (FTIR)

The spectrometers are used primarily for structural identification of pure compounds in the solid, liquid or gaseous states. They are useful for determining the functional groups present in a pure compound and their chemical environments. Our PerkinElmer Spectrum 1 FTIR is equipped to handle a variety of samples. The Attenuated total reflection accessory (which may soon become a standard in the drug industry) facilitates the analysis of small solid samples.
UV-Vis Spectrometers

We currently have a Thuramed T60 UV-Vis Spectrometer with UVWin software to perform quantitation, kinetics and DNA purity tests. In addition, three Shimadzu 1201 spectrometers are equipped with kinetics and quantitation software programs.

Fourier Transform Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer (FT-NMR)

The NMR is the preferred method for the precise structural determination of organic molecules. For this reason, its use is widespread in structural determinations. Our department uses an Anasazi EM 360 Fourier Transform Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrophotometer (FTNMR). The wideband probe upgrade allows us to investigate a range of nuclei (such as Si, C, N, P, Al).

Gas Chromatograph and Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometers (GC/MS)

Hewlet Packert 5890 Gas Chromatograph with 5970 mass selector (GCMS)
PerkinElmer XL Gas Chromatograph (FID)with HS40 autosampler for headspace analysis
HP5890 Gas Chromatograph with Flame Ionization detector (GCFID)

The GC/MS is an instrument that is used to separate and "fingerprint" components in complex organic mixtures. A typical application for the GC/MS would be for the identification and quantification of a specific compound in a mixture. For this reason, the GC/MS is used widely in the analysis of drugs and for matching specific compounds to known libraries. GC/MS or GC with an electro capture detector (ECD) is the currently accepted method for detecting polycyclic biphenyls (PCBs) in environmental water samples. An ECD detector usually comes standard on most research-grade instruments and may be easily interchanged with a flame ionization detector (FID) for additional analytes.

HPLC-Waters 1525

The HPLC separates and identifies compounds in mixtures in the liquid state. Much like the GC-MS, its applications include the identification and quantification of substances in mixtures. HPLC is the most commonly accepted instrument for environmental water analysis involving polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); our instrument is capable of detecting these hazardous compounds to the parts-per-billion level in water. Our HPLC system is equipped with a Photodiode Array (PDA) (Waters 2296) with Binary pump system and Empower™ software. The columns include C18 and Princeton SpherC30 Reverse Phase as well as a Spherisorb that is organic and salt compatible.

Raman Spectroscopy

The Raman Systems R-3000-785 Raman spectrometer was purchased with aid from the Pittsburgh Conference Memorial National College Grant fund. This portable Raman spectrometer is an additional tool in the structural analysis of compounds and allows for the identification of samples with very little sample prep.