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GTF: Kira Egelhofer

CH 229 Laboratory
6 April 2016
Fatty Acid Monolayer Laboratory Report
The purpose of this weeks lab was to determine the number of drops
of stearic acid needed to form a one-molecule-thick layer of fat on a water
surface. This number would help us determine Avogadros number, which
was the main objective of our lab. Avogadros Number (NA) was named after
Amedeo Avogadro, an Italian physicist who defined this as the number of
atoms in exactly 12 grams of carbon-12. Although he was never able to
define the actual number, it is now defined as 6.02212129 X 1023
particles/mole. The fatty acid used in this experiment was stearic acid
(C7H35COOH), and is classified to be a fatty acid because of the carboxylic
group (COOH) it carries. Fatty acids are composed of two different parts: a
carboxylic group, and a long hydrocarbon chain. The carboxylic group is
hydrophilic (likes water), and the chain hydrophobic (repels water). Because
of the very long hydrophobic chain these fats have, fatty acids tend to
repel in water and are insoluble. In our experiment, this fatty acid was able
to disperse itself along the surface of the water, unable to mix with the water
contents underneath. Coming into lab, I wondered how the drop size of
stearic acid would affect the formation of the monolayer, and how the
calculation of Avogadros number would be affected by this. It was important
to keep in mind some safety precautions, such as the high flammability of
stearic acid, and its health risk when in direct contact. We also were very
aware of the correct disposal of certain chemicals, which were disposed of in
the fume hood when in high concentrations.
In the first part of the experiment, we thoroughly cleaned a watch
glass and a 150 mL beaker to assure there was no residue that may affect
the dispersion of the water or fatty acid on the watch glass. The balanced
watch glass filled with deionized water was placed on a 600 mL beaker. Then,
to calibrate the pipet and to standardize the drop sizes, we performed the

dropping of 25 drops of hexane into a bottle, and, with the weight of the
bottle zeroed, determined the mass of 25 drops of pure hexane. In the third
part of the experiment, we carefully dropped drops of stearic acid into the
center of the balanced watch glass with water. The important aspect of this
part was to maintain the same drop size as used in the pipet calibration.
Waiting until each individual drop dispersed, more drops of stearic acid were
dropped until no dispersion occurred, and a thin fatty acid monolayer
formed. The number of drops was recorded each time and three trials were
performed of the experiment.
Collected Data (Table 1)
Mass of 25
drops hexane
(in weighing
Watch glass
Number of
drops needed
to form layer

Trial 1
0.157 g

Trial 2
0.258 g

Trial 3
0.213 g

0.2093 g

12.5 cm

12.5 cm

12.5 cm

12.5 cm

7.01 X 10-5

7.01 X 10-5

7.01 X 10-5

7.01 X 10-5

Calculating the surface area of the monolayer:
d 2
(1.25 X 10 nm)
= 1.24 X 1015 nm2
Calculating number of stearic acid molecules in monolayer
0.21 n m /molec
1.24 X 10 n m
= 5.92 X1015 molecules of stearic acid
0.21n m /molec
Calculating number of drops per mL of hexane


density of hexane

( mLg ) X 25 drops

avg mass drops ( g )

0.667 g /mL
X 25 drops
drops/mL =
0.2093 g

= 79.67 drops/mL

Calculating volume of stearic acid in monolayer

number of drops
number of drops per milliliter
15 drops
= 0.188 mL
79.67 drops/ mL
16 drops
= 0.2008 mL
79.67 drops/mL

V1 =

V2 =

14 drops
79.67 drops/mL

Calculating mass of stearic acid in monolayer

mass=( concentration ) X volume
105 g
m1 = 7.01 X
X ( 0.188 mL )

= 1.318 X 10 g
10 g
m = (7.01 X
X (0.1757 mL ) = 1.23 X 10 g
mL )
10 g
m = (7.01 X
X ( 0.2008 mL ) = 1.408 X 10 g
mL )



Calculating number of moles stearic acid

284.5 g/mol
1.318 X 10 g
n1 =
= 4.63 X 10-8 mol
284.5 g /mol
1.23 X 105 g
n2 =
= 4.32 X 10-8 mol
284.5 g /mol
1.408 X 105 g
n3 =
= 4.95 X 10-8 mol
284.5 g /mol
Calculating Avogadros Number
number of molecules per mole=
5.92 X 10
NA1 =
= 1.28 X 1023
4.63 X 10
NA2 =

5.92 X 1015
4.32 X 108


= 1.37 X 1023

= 0.1757 mL


NA3 =

5.92 X 10 15
4.95 X 10

= 1.19 X 1023

Claims and Evidence:

In this experiment, I was successful in calculating a number very close
to Avogadros number through the various calculations shown above. The
average NA I calculated was 1.28 X 1023, which shows to be very similar to
the actual value of 6.022 X 1023. The class data was similar as well, with an
average of 8.61 X 1023 with the same watch glass size. In answering my
beginning questions, the drop sizes of hexane and steric acid were not
relevant, as long as the drop sizes were consistent in both parts of the
experiment. This was the purpose of the the pipet and drop calibration, to
standardize the drop sizes used. My two beginning questions essentially
have the same answer, although if different drop sizes were used, then an
incorrect estimation of Avogadros Number would be reached.
Analysis and Discussion:
The experiment answered my beginning questions effectively, and
because of the pipet calibration, my drop sizes were essentially consistent
throughout the experiment. However, I can guess an experimental error can
be due to my inability to drop the drops in a consistent fashion. Often, I
would notice around two drops to come out of the pipet at once, and would
have to count that drop as two rather than one. For the most part, my
estimation worked correctly, as the final answer I got for Avogadros Number
was relatively close to the actual value and was an acceptable value for lab.
This is because when thinking about the incredibly large value of Avogadros
Number, an error this size is pretty much insignificant. A source of error could
have also been the initial weighing of the hexane and the weigh bottle,
because the mass fluctuated a lot and it was difficult to record an accurate
mass. I made no changes to the actual experiment, but often had to estimate
the drop numbers if one drop was larger or smaller than the previous. It was
difficult to carry out the correct pipet drop dispensing as was described in the

lab manual, because of the difficulty of both viewing the monolayer in
addition to holding the pipet completely vertically.
Assumptions made during this experiment included that an average
stearic acid molecule had an area of 0.21 nm2, and that each molecule was a
continuation of the next, meaning that there were no air or water spaces in
between the molecules. We also assumed that our drop sizes were all equal,
as well as the sizes of the molecules dealt with. Without these assumptions,
this experiment would be much harder to lead, but it probably would not
have altered our final conclusions significantly as our final answers were
close to the actual values. The class data showed to be comparable to my
own data, as described in the Claims section, but the differences could be
due to the experimental errors I described above. My data is precise because
I made sure to keep all decimal places in my calculator during my
calculations. I did not include all the decimal places in my lab report in order
to maximize space, but all of my calculations are precise in terms of
significant figures and decimal places.
The principles of Green Chemistry are very important to follow because
of the hazardous implications these chemicals may have with the
environment. This experiment followed the third principle of Green
Chemistry, Less Hazardous Chemical Syntheses, because hexane was used
in order to lessen the toxicity to the environment and is the greenest solvent
that can be used. This was also related to the fifth principle, Safer Solvents
and Auxiliaries. All toxic waste, like hexane, was disposed in the fume hood,
and not down the drain, which also is supported by the third principle. The
only chemical disposed down the drain was the stearic acid mixed with
water, and the only reason this was allowed was of the very small amount of
stearic acid it contained (in my experiment, 14-16 drops of stearic acid total
per trial).


Brandi L. Baldock and Deborah Berkshire Exton, 2014: University of Oregon
General Chemistry Laboratory Manual. A Fatty Acid Monolayer