Analytical chemistry is the branch of chemistry that deals with the identification, quantification, and characterization of the chemical and physical properties of organic and inorganic substances.
In other words, analytical chemists use various techniques to determine what compounds are present in a given sample, as well as their quantities. This information can be used to determine the purity of a substance or to help identify its source.
In this article, we will cover the general history of analytical chemistry, its subfields, applications, and the future of analytical chemistry.
The Beginnings of Analytical Chemistry
Analytical chemistry can be traced back to early civilizations. However, it was not until the 19th century that this branch of chemistry would flourish. Arguably, it is due to advancements in instrumentation that this came about.
19th-century analytical chemistry was a time of great discovery, as many new techniques were developed and used to advance the field.
These developments include the invention of spectroscopy, which is used to study the interaction between matter and electromagnetic radiation; pH measurements, which are used in acid/base calculations; and thin-layer chromatography (TLC), which is used to separate analytes based on their affinity for a certain material.
Subfields of Analytical Chemistry
There are many different subfields of analytical chemistry, each with its own area of focus. Some of the most common subfields include:
- Organic analytical chemistry: This subfield focuses on the identification and quantification of organic compounds in a sample.
- Inorganic analytical chemistry: This subfield focuses on the identification and quantification of inorganic compounds in a sample.
- Environmental analytical chemistry: This subfield focuses on the analysis of environmental samples, such as water, soil, and air.
- Food analytical chemistry: This subfield focuses on analyzing food samples, such as fruits, vegetables, and meat.
- Forensic analytical chemistry: This subfield focuses on the analysis of forensic evidence, such as blood, drugs, and explosives.
- Clinical analytical chemistry: This subfield focuses on the analysis of clinical samples, such as urine or saliva.
Applications of Analytical Chemistry
Analytical chemistry plays a vital role in many different scientific fields. Some of these fields include:
- Medicine/healthcare: Analytical chemists use their knowledge to develop new drugs, test blood samples for diseases, and aid in surgical procedures.
- Environment: Analytical chemists are often used to monitor the environment, including contaminated soil and water.
- Drug development: Analytical chemists are often used in drug discovery to analyze previously discovered compounds or test new ones for toxicity.
- Law enforcement/forensics: Analytical chemists are often used in law enforcement to help investigate crimes, including the analysis of evidence found at crime scenes.
The Future of Analytical Chemistry
The future of analytical chemistry is bright, as new techniques and methods are being developed all the time.
Some of the most exciting developments include the use of nanotechnology in analytical instruments, the increasing popularity of mass spectrometry, and the growing use of Raman spectroscopy.
Nanotechnology is a field of science that deals with the manipulation of matter at the atomic and molecular levels. This technology can be used to create tiny sensors that can be embedded in objects or materials. These sensors can then be used to detect a variety of compounds, including pollutants and explosives.
Mass spectrometry is a technique used to identify and measure the mass of molecules. This method has become extremely popular over the years, as it is considered to be a highly accurate way of studying molecules with great detail.
Similarly, Raman spectroscopy uses light to study the specific vibrations within matter. This method has many practical applications, including testing pollution levels in the air and examining organic compounds for authenticity.
Analytical chemistry is the study of matter and its properties. It is a vital science that plays a role in many different fields, including healthcare, environmental monitoring, drug development, forensics, and more. The future of analytical chemistry is bright, as new techniques and methods are being developed all the time.