Analytical Chemistry: An overview
Analytical chemistry is the science of obtaining, processing, and communicating information about the matter – its composition and structure. You can define analytical chemistry as the art and science of determining what matter is and how much of it is in existence.
Work of an Analytical Chemist
Analytical chemists use chemistry, computers, instrumentation, and statistics for problem-solving in all areas of chemistry for all kinds of industries. For example, the measurements done by analytical chemists are used for safety and quality assurance of food products, pharmaceuticals, and water; to ensure compliance with environmental and other regulations; to support the legal process; to help doctors diagnose illnesses, and to provide measurements and documentation that is essential for trade and commerce.
Often analytical chemists can be found in service-related jobs, and they find employment in government, academia, and industry.
Typically, an analytical chemist can do the following:
- Perform qualitative and quantitative analysis
- Work with samples
- Set error limits
- Validate and verify test results through calibration and standardisation
- Do separations based on differential chemical properties
- Create new ways of taking measurements
- Interpret data in the proper context
- Communicate their findings to other scientists
The increase of automation has in its turn decreased the demand for analytical chemists to conduct repetitive routine analysis – a lot of the work like sample preparation and review can be done by robots. Advanced computer algorithms take care of result interpretation and analysis. However, knowledge of the organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry of the sample and the measurement are still much in demand, especially during troubleshooting. These sophisticated methods have opened the door for new opportunities for analytical chemists.
An analytical chemist works in diverse areas like in manufacturing areas or as applications or sales and marketing chemists for vendors of instrumentations and apparatuses. Employers, typically look for analytical chemists who have experience in operating various kinds of increasingly sophisticated instruments that make routine measurements. Also, they look for analytical chemists who can perform specific types of analysis, for example, the study of samples in the areas of food, environmental samples, pharmaceuticals, minerals, or polymers.
Analytical chemists make measurements using sophisticated and modern computer-controlled instrumentation both in government laboratories as well as private laboratories in the industries of pharmaceuticals, food, and biotechnology. They can also participate in the development of techniques in these laboratories and the laboratories of instrumentation vendors. Analytical chemists are also suitable as quality assurance specialists who ensure that protocols and procedures are strictly followed. They also have roles in quality control for providing product quality.
Some places where you can find analytical chemists are:
- Consumer products
- Agriculture and food
- Forensic labs
- Oil and petroleum
- Universities and government labs