Analytical Chemistry Definition

Chemistry Glossary Terms

Chemical analysis

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Analytical chemistry is the chemistry discipline that studies the chemical composition of materials and develops the tools used to examine chemical compositions. It involves wet lab chemistry as well as use of instrumentation. Analytical chemistry is important in science, engineering, medicine, and industry.

Analytical chemistry makes use of standards and error analysis.

Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis

Qualitative analysis characterizes the identity of a specimen, while quantitative analysis examines its mass or concentration. Techniques used in qualitative analysis include chemical tests, spectroscopy, spectrometry, microscopy, flame tests, and bead tests. Quantitative analysis employs analytical balances, gravimetric analysis, volumetric analysis, and separation techniques, such as filtration, centrifugation, and chromatography. There is overlap of techniques used between the two branches, especially since samples may require purification in order to characterize them.


  • Bettencourt da Silva, R.; Bulska, E.; Godlewska-Zylkiewicz, B.; Hedrich, M.; Majcen, N.; Magnusson, B.; Marincic, S.; Papadakis, I.; Patriarca, M.; Vassileva, E.; Taylor, P. (2012). Analytical Measurement: Measurement Uncertainty and Statistics. ISBN 978-92-79-23071-4.
  • Skoog, Douglas A.; West, Donald M.; Holler, F. James; Crouch, Stanley R. (2014). Fundamentals of Analytical Chemistry. Belmont: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-0-495-55832-3.
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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Analytical Chemistry Definition." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2020, August 28). Analytical Chemistry Definition. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Analytical Chemistry Definition." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 30, 2023).