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Fluorescent organic polymers are used in a wide range of applications, including explosive sensing, clean energy technologies, and biological detection schemes. However, such polymers are rarely synthesized in an undergraduate organic teaching laboratory, due to their air and moisture sensitivity. The synthesis of a fluorescent organic polymer, poly[2-methoxy-5-(2-ethylhexyloxy)-1,4-phenylenevinylene] (MEH-PPV), is described for the upper-division undergraduate organic laboratory. This polymerization is accomplished using straightforward procedures to exclude air and moisture, without requiring the use of a glovebox or strict inert-atmosphere conditions. Once synthesized, the polymer is used for two applications, the fabrication of fluorescent thin films and the formation of organic conjugated nanoparticles, and leads to a number of pedagogical opportunities about polymerization, organic fluorescence, solid-state properties, and hydrophobic nanoparticle formation.



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