Whenever in the world of chemistry one of the curious minds comes across a substance about which they don’t have much information, they have to extract that information from the substance itself. The branch of analytical chemistry deals with extracting such information from the substance by subjecting it to certain investigative methods. These methods can be used to reveal what the substance is composed of and in what amounts are those constituents present in the compound. The development of analytical chemistry has been crucial in furthering the ease of study and characterization of compounds which has in turn made the synthesis of new compound less complicated than before.
Suppose you mix three or four reagents and create a new compound in your chemical lab. But you are not quite sure whether you have actually formed the compound you aimed for or whether the solid on the filter paper even contains the new compound or is simply a mixture of the reactants. In such a case, you must expose a small amount of solid to some of the techniques practiced in qualitative analysis. There are traditional techniques as well has modern instrumental techniques available today that have become indispensable to a modern chemist. It is very important to confirm during a synthesis that you have reached at the molecule you were targeting so that you can move to the next step with confidence.
Much like qualitative analysis, it is vital to understand what is the amount of a particular substance present in the form of analytes that are being analyzed. Qualitative analysis helps chemists in understanding about the yield that a particular reaction will give. When a substance is obtained after a reaction, there are various amounts of initial reactants that went unreacted as well as a certain amount of the new compound. In order to determine the efficiency of the synthesis route, you have to ascertain how much conversion has taken place.
Traditional methods in analytical chemistry
Before the advancements in instruments made analytical chemistry less daunting, there were various kinds of traditional methods that chemists employed which they referred to as wet techniques for analysis. Glassware and Bunsen burners were main instruments that were used and there was not much accuracy because of compounding of errors through human measurements as well as the variation in reaction standards. Titration is still a famous traditional method used to determine the amount or concentration of material that is being analyzed. Traditional methods saw a decline in popularity after modern methodology was refined to a state which allowed quick and hassle-free analysis.
Contemporary methods in analytical chemistry
After instruments became mainstream, to be used for the analysis of a substance, rapid development in analytical chemistry took place. Soon all you had to do was take a microgram of the substance you wished to be analyzed, put it on a glass slip in a machine and let the instrument do its magic. A computer connected to the instrument displayed the result and helped in easy analysis. A hybridization of the techniques used by the instrument allowed for both qualitative as well as quantitative analysis and helped in characterization of the substance.