The golden poison dart frog is about an inch long and banana yellow. By some estimates, the skin of one little frog contains enough toxin to kill 10 adult men.

“Oh yeah, it’s one of the more lethal poisons on the on the planet,” says Justin Du Bois, a synthetic chemist at Stanford University.

The substance is called batrachotoxin (buh-TRAK-uh-TOX-in), and tiny amounts of it can be deadly if it makes it into a victim’s bloodstream. It’s what some indigenous groups in Colombia’s lowland rain forest would use to tip their blow darts.

And, as Du Bois and his colleagues write Thursday in the journal Science, they figured out how to make it in the lab in 24 steps. Why on Earth would anyone want to do that?

“Well, it turns out it’s a fantastic research tool for figuring out how nerves conduct electricity,” Du Bois says, “and we’re very interested in that fundamental process.”

Chemists Re-Create Deadly Frog Poison In The Lab

Photo: Tambako the Jaguar/Getty Images
Caption: The skin of the golden poison dart frog,
Phyllobates terribilis, secretes a deadly poison that might lead to a better understanding of how to treat malfunctions of the human nervous system.


A new design from Rhodium-Clothing: Experiments could always cause some surprise, so it could be better to step back and wait for the results (the gif from the reaction between sodium hydride and water is from labphoto: )

Everything else and this new design in the shop is now shipping free worldwide til’ May 10, 2015 at Midnight Pacific Time!

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Crystals after of an amino acid derivative

I made a proline derivative as a precusor of the CBS catalyst. Usually amino acids and related compounds crystallizes rarely, but this derivative gave beautiful crystals after the first attempt. This flask only contained the rest of the mother liquor, but beautiful crystals formed in it after a while.

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Just for fun: preparation of elemental bromine from potassium bromide, phosphoric acid and some potassium bromate.

BrO3(-) + 5Br(-) + 6H(+) —> 3 Br2 + 3 H2O

Bromine is a quite corrosive, toxic fuming liquid, therefore it should be handled with care. I wrote a lot from this element in the past, check out the previous posts:

Worldwide they produce a LOT bromine, approximately 750000 tonnes per year and they use it for countless purposes. It’s widely used in Brominated vegetable oil (BVO). It’s a complex mixture of plant-derived triglycerides that have been reacted to contain atoms of the element bromine bonded to the molecules. Brominated vegetable oil is used primarily to help emulsify citrus-flavored soft drinks, preventing them from separating during distribution. Brominated vegetable oil has been used by the soft drink industry since 1931, generally at a level of about 8 ppm.


My new favorite: fluorescent crystals at the side of a test tube. 

Something new was made what crystallized on standing. Previously I could only make this compound as a powder and I was unable to grow crystals from it, since it’s nearly insoluble in everything, but now, with a little trick these nice crystals formed what are highly fluorescent and look great.  

The bottom picture is cropped from the upper photo. 

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Explosive decomposition of diazomethane.  At us the diazomethane is generated in from the highly toxic, carcinogen, mutagen, and teratogen N-Nitroso-N-methylurea (NMU) (since it’s cheap and it is easy to make it even on large scale: ) with a concentrated solution of potassium hydroxide. On the video less than a gram was generated in-situ from NMU and KOH solution, right before it was ignited. 

Diazomethane is the most simple diazo compound and was discovered by Hans von Pechmann in 1894.

A few things to note: it should not heat up, since it could explode.

It should not contact any ground glass, since it could explode.

It should not be stirred with stirring bar, since it could explode.

Any source of fire close to the solution may led to an explosion.

It has also weird smell, and can gives you a nasty pneumonia + lung edema if you breath it.

By the way, it’s a really great reagent, it reacts well in most cases and it’s easy to work with it.


Crystals of freshly purified α,α′-Dibromo-o-xylene. 

When this compound is freshly prepared, it usually contains a few percent of monobromo derivative and a small amount of polybrominated compounds, therefore it should be purified somehow. I recrystallized it once from hexanes what gave a perfectly pure product. 

What was the problem? This compound and most impurities are REALLY powerful tear gas/ lachrymatory agents, therefore is should be handled with great care, else way everyone will cry in the lab. 

The first two pictures are the actual photos in small, the last two are slightly enlarged crops from the first picture. Both photo could be purchased at Society6, with a free worldwide shipping and a 10% discount:


The plan was to grow a single crystal from this compound for a single crystal X-ray crystallographic analysis to know the exact structure of the compound. But sadly it only gave these fluffy needle like crystals from every solvent what could be used for it’s crystallization. 

Good point: it looks great on a photograph(:

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A slightly impure product right after evaporating the solvent from the flask. 

The red band at the middle is a small amount from my starting material, and the orange part what is everywhere in the flask is my product. What is this compound? A ferrocene based organopalladium compound what is slightly fluorous, so its quite fancy. The only bad thing in it is, that its racemic, so in the next few weeks I have to separate the two enantiomers from each other. Good point: it looks great!

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Found an ampule under a fume hood with thiophosgene written on it. Probably mainly thiophosgene was in it long ago, since thiophosgene is a red liquid and not an adorable looking colorless crystalline solid. 

Thiophosgene is similar to phosgene (COCl2), the only difference that a sulfur is on the molecule instead of the oxygen, so it could be written as CSCl2. It is a red liquid with probably a horrible odor, but since it’s highly toxic it’s not recommended to sniff it. 

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Pictures from an organic chemistry laboratory turned 4 today!

During these years I have done more than a thousand chemical reactions, isolated several hundred compounds, and many of these were never described before. I discovered many interesting things in chemistry, and at least 2 reaction types what was never reported before.

During this 4 year, I posted 1136 posts on this blog, usually day by day with a snapshot from the daily labwork with a short comment, that what is on the picture, what’s in the flask(:

To get a random moment from the last years, visit this link:

To see some of my favorites, visit this link:

If you got any comment, just let me know:

Thank you all for following this blog!

-Kristof Hegedüs


Sublimed, superpure crystals of trichloromethyl-trimethylsilane at the wall of a flask. 

Interesting about this compound, besides it costs much if you would like to buy it, that it has a melting point at 130 °C if it’s sealed, but if you heat it in an open flask, it will sublime away in no time. And it has a quite characteristic odor, similar to camphor.

Both picture is part of my portfolio, what is the collection of the best pictures from the blog. It could be purchased at Society6 as a high quality great looking print now with a FREE Worldwide Shipping til’ October 11, 2015 at Midnight Pacific Time. To get a picture on your wall, just visit this link:


This is about a year old picture from a crystalline amino acid. Someone recently asked that why is the background black on the picture and not white, since the crystal may look much better on a white background.

Well, now here is it, both version, you decide which is the better(:

The best pictures from the blog, including these two above, what are tagged as my portfolio, could be purchased at Society6 as a high quality great looking print now with a FREE Worldwide Shipping til’ June 7, 2015 at Midnight Pacific Time! 

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There are always random flasks in the lab. This contained some BINOL (1,1’-Bi-2-naphthol) what didn’t reacted as we wanted, so if was left under the fume hood to crystallize. After a week I found these little crystals at the bottom of the flask(:

The best pictures from the blog, what are tagged as my portfolio, including these pictures, could be purchased at Society6 as a high quality great looking print now with a FREE Worldwide Shipping til’ April 12, 2015 at Midnight Pacific Time. To get a picture on your wall, just visit this link:


Preparation of Silver Tetraiodomercurate(II) for a demonstration.

Silver Tetraiodomercurate(II) is a quite special compound, since it’s thermochromic. It changes color from yellow to orange/red when heated:

Silver Tetraiodomercurate (Ag2HgI4) is yellow at room temperature, but when it’s heated above 50 °C, it turns orange. Since the color change is reversible, when it is cooled back to room temperature, the color changes back to its original color.

The compound was prepared from mercury(II)-iodide (that red powder on the first picture) and some potassium iodide with a little silver nitrate. The silver nitrate was added to the solution of potassium tetraiodomercurate (K2HgI4,   what was previously prepared from mercury-iodide and potassium iodide). The addition of the silver salt caused the immediate precipitation of the yellow colored silver tetraiodomercurate (as seen on the gif).

What happened? This:

HgI2 + 2 KI + 2 AgNO3 –> Ag2HgI4 + 2 KNO3