Friday, November 14, 2008

Bling crib

I saw the following image of Roger Hiorns' Seizure installation over at Boing Boing and was struck by the beauty of it. The color is nice and I'm sure the artist is challenging perceptions or something, but I love the huge single crystals. I've tried to grow countless crystals for x-ray analysis with very mixed results. People tell me that growing single crystals is more of an art than a science, but one thing of which I am certain is that you need to grow them slowly. That appears to be what the artist did in this case. (It also helps that he wasn't trying to grow air-sensitive organometallic complexes.)

From the photos it appears that the artist waterproofed an apartment in an abandoned building and filled it with 80 kL of hot, saturated copper(II) sulfate (solfato di rame) solution. As the solution cooled, copper(II) sulfate pentahydrate crystallized on every surface in the room. I thought this was timely since I was playing around with copper(II) sulfate today. I dissolved it in water and added sodium carbonate to precipitate copper(II) carbonate. Then I mixed that with excess carbon and heated it in a crucible to smelt metallic copper. Maybe I'll get out the oxygen torch tomorrow and see if I can make silver from that big jar of silver chloride waste in my hood.

More photos can be found here and here.

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