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Chemistry LibreTexts

2: Basic Tools of Analytical Chemistry

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  • In the chapters that follow we will explore many aspects of analytical chemistry. In the process we will consider important questions, such as “How do we extract useful results from experimental data?”, “How do we ensure our results are accurate?”, “How do we obtain a representative sample?”, and “How do we select an appropriate analytical technique?” Before we consider these and other questions, we first must review some basic tools of importance to analytical chemists.

    • 2.1: Measurements in Analytical Chemistry
      Analytical chemistry is a quantitative science. Whether determining the concentration of a species, evaluating an equilibrium constant, measuring a reaction rate, or drawing a correlation between a compound’s structure and its reactivity, analytical chemists engage in “measuring important chemical things.” In this section we review briefly the basic units of measurement and the proper use of significant figures.
    • 2.2: Concentration
      Concentration is a general measurement unit that reports the amount of solute present in a known amount of solution, which we can express in a variety of ways.
    • 2.3: Stoichiometric Calculations
      A balanced reaction, which defines the stoichiometric relationship between the moles of reactants and the moles of products, provides the basis for many analytical calculations.
    • 2.4: Basic Equipment
      The array of equipment available for making analytical measurements and working with analytical samples is impressive, ranging from the simple and inexpensive, to the complex and expensive. With three exceptions— the measurement of mass, the measurement of volume, and the drying of materials—we will postpone the discussion of equipment to later chapters where its application to specific analytical methods is relevant.
    • 2.5: Preparing Solutions
      Preparing a solution of known concentration is perhaps the most common activity in any analytical lab. The method for measuring out the solute and the solvent depend on the desired concentration and how exact the solu- tion’s concentration needs to be known.
    • 2.6: Spreadsheets and Computational Software
      Analytical chemistry is an inherently quantitative discipline. Whether you are completing a statistical analysis, trying to optimize experimental conditions, or exploring how a change in pH affects a compound’s solubility, the ability to work with complex mathematical equations is essential. Spreadsheets, such as Microsoft Excel, and computational software, such as R, are important tools for analyzing your data and for preparing graphs of your results.
    • 2.7: The Laboratory Notebook
      A laboratory notebook is your most important tool when working in the lab. If kept properly, you should be able to look back at your laboratory notebook several years from now and reconstruct the experiments on which you worked.
    • 2.8: Problems
      End-of-chapter problems to test your understanding of topics in this chapter.
    • 2.9: Additional Resources
      A compendium of resources to accompany topics in this chapter.
    • 2.10: Chapter Summary and Key Terms
      Summary of chapter's main topics and a list of key terms introduced in the chapter.

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