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1.S: Introduction to Analytical Chemistry (Summary)

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    Analytical chemists work to improve the ability of all chemists to make meaningful measurements. Chemists working in the other traditional areas of chemistry, as well as in interdisciplinary fields such as medicinal chemistry, clinical chemistry, and environmental chemistry, need better tools for analyzing materials. The need to work with smaller samples, with more complex materials, with processes occurring on shorter time scales, and with species present at lower concentrations challenges analytical chemists to improve existing analytical methods and to develop new ones.

    Typical problems on which analytical chemists work include qualitative analyses (What is present?), quantitative analyses (How much is present?), characterization analyses (What are the sample’s chemical and physical properties?), and fundamental analyses (How does this method work and how can it be improved?).

    1.4.1 Key Terms

    • characterization analysis
    • fundamental analysis
    • qualitative analysis
    • quantitative analysis

    Additional Resources

    Gathered here are three types of resources: suggested experiments, mostly from the Journal of Chemical Education and The Chemical Educator, that provide practical examples of concepts in the textbook; additional readings from the analytical literature that extend and supplement topics covered in the textbook. Although primarily intended for the use of instructors, these resources also will benefit students who wish to pursue a topic at more depth.

    The role of analytical chemistry within the broader discipline of chemistry has been discussed by many prominent analytical chemists. Several notable examples are listed here.

    • Baiulescu, G. E.; Patroescu, C; Chalmers, R. A. Education and Teaching in Analytical Chemistry, Ellis Horwood: Chichester, 1982.
    • de Haseth, J. “What is Analytical Chemistry?,” Spectroscopy 1990, 5, 19-21.
    • Heiftje, G. M. “The Two Sides of Analytical Chemistry,” Anal. Chem. 1985, 57, 256A-267A.
    • Heiftje, G. M. “But is It Analytical Chemistry?,” Am. Lab. 1993, October, 53-61.
    • Kissinger, P. T. “Analytical Chemistry—What is It? Why Teach It?,” Trends Anal. Chem. 1992, 11, 57-57.
    • Laitinen, H. A.; Ewing, G. (eds.) A History of Analytical Chemistry, The Division of Analytical Chemistry of the American Chemical Society: Washington, D. C., 1972.
    • Laitinen, H. A. “Analytical Chemistry in a Changing World,” Anal. Chem. 1980, 52, 605A-609A.
    • Laitinen, H. A. “History of Analytical Chemistry in the U. S. A.,” Talanta, 1989, 36, 1-9.
    • McLafferty, F. W. “Analytical Chemistry: Historic and Modern,” Acc. Chem. Res. 1990, 23, 63-64.
    • Mottola, H. A. “The Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Nature of Contemporary Analytical Chemistry and its Core Components,” Anal. Chim. Acta 1991, 242, 1-3.
    • Noble, D. “From Wet Chemistry to Instrumental Analysis: A Perspective on Analytical Sciences,” Anal. Chem. 1994, 66, 251A-263A.
    • Tyson, J. Analysis: What Analytical Chemists Do, Royal Society of Chemistry: Cambridge, England 1988.

    For additional discussion of clinical assays based on paper-based microfluidic devices, see the following papers.

    • Ellerbee, A. K.; Phillips, S. T.; Siegel, A. C.; Mirica, K. A.; Martinez, A. W.; Striehl, P.; Jain, N.; Prentiss, M.; Whitesides, G. M. “Quantifying Colorimetric Assays in Paper-Based Microfluidic Devices by Measuring the Transmission of Light Through Paper,” Anal. Chem. 2009, 81, 8447–8452.
    • Martinez, A. W.; Phillips, S. T.; Whitesides, G. M. “Diagnostics for the Developing World: Microfluidic Paper-Based Analytical Devices,” Anal. Chem. 2010, 82, 3–10.

    This textbook provides one presentation introducing the discipline of analytical chemistry. There are other textbooks for introductory courses in analytical chemistry and you may find it useful to consult them when you encounter a difficult concept; often a fresh perspective will help crystallize your understanding. The textbooks listed here are excellent resources.

    • Enke, C. The Art and Science of Chemical Analysis, Wiley: New York.
    • Harris, D. Quantitative Chemical Analysis, W. H. Freeman and Company: New York.
    • Kellner, R.; Mermet, J.-M.; Otto, M.; Valcárcel, M.; Widmer, H. M. Analytical Chemistry, Wiley-VCH: Weinheim, Germany.
    • Rubinson, J. F.; Rubinson, K. A. Contemporary Chemical Analysis, Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ.
    • Skoog, D. A.; West, D. M.; Holler, F. J. Fundamentals of Analytical Chemistry, Saunders: Philadelphia.

    To explore the practice of modern analytical chemistry there is no better resource than the primary literature. The following journals publish broadly in the area of analytical chemistry.


    1. Ravey, M. Spectroscopy, 1990, 5(7), 11.
    2. de Haseth, J. Spectroscopy, 1990, 5(7), 11.
    3. Fresenius. C. R. A System of Instruction in Quantitative Chemical Analysis; John Wiley and Sons: New York, 1881.
    4. Kolthoff, I. M.; Sandell, E. B. Textbook of Quantitative Inorganic Analysis, 3rd Ed., The Macmillan Company: New York, 1952.
    5. Van Loon, J. C. Analytical Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy, Academic Press: New York, 1980.
    6. Murray, R. W. Anal. Chem. 1991, 63, 271A.
    7. For several different viewpoints see (a) Beilby, A. L. J. Chem. Educ. 1970, 47, 237-238; (b) Lucchesi, C. A. Am. Lab. 1980, October, 112-119; (c) Atkinson, G. F. J. Chem. Educ. 1982, 59, 201-202; (d) Pardue, H. L.; Woo, J. J. Chem. Educ. 1984, 61, 409-412; (e) Guarnieri, M. J. Chem. Educ. 1988, 65, 201-203, (f) Strobel, H. A. Am. Lab. 1990, October, 17-24.
    8. See, for example, the following laboratory texts: (a) Sorum, C. H.; Lagowski, J. J. Introduction to Semimicro Qualitative Analysis, 5th Ed.; Prenctice-Hall: Englewood, NJ, 1977; (b) Shriner, R. L.; Fuson, R. C.; Curtin, D. Y. The Systematic Identification of Organic Compounds, 5th Ed.; John Wiley and Sons: New York, 1964.

    1.S: Introduction to Analytical Chemistry (Summary) is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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