Instrumental chemistry

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Instrumental analysis is a field of analytical chemistry that investigates analytes using scientific instruments.


Block diagram of an analytical instrument showing the stimulus and measurement of response Analytical instrument.png
Block diagram of an analytical instrument showing the stimulus and measurement of response


Spectroscopy measures the interaction of the molecules with electromagnetic radiation. Spectroscopy consists of many different applications such as atomic absorption spectroscopy, atomic emission spectroscopy, ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, photoemission spectroscopy, Mössbauer spectroscopy, and circular dichroism spectroscopy.

Nuclear spectroscopy

Methods of nuclear spectroscopy use properties of a nucleus to probe a material's properties, especially the material's local structure. Common methods include nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), Mössbauer spectroscopy (MBS), and perturbed angular correlation (PAC).

Mass spectrometry

Mass spectrometry measures mass-to-charge ratio of molecules using electric and magnetic fields. There are several ionization methods: electron ionization, chemical ionization, electrospray, fast atom bombardment, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization, and others. Also, mass spectrometry is categorized by approaches of mass analyzers: magnetic-sector, quadrupole mass analyzer, quadrupole ion trap, time-of-flight, Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance, and so on.


Crystallography is a technique that characterizes the chemical structure of materials at the atomic level by analyzing the diffraction patterns of electromagnetic radiation or particles that have been deflected by atoms in the material. X-rays are most commonly used. From the raw data, the relative placement of atoms in space may be determined.

Electrochemical analysis

Electroanalytical methods measure the electric potential in volts and/or the electric current in amps in an electrochemical cell containing the analyte. [1] [2] These methods can be categorized according to which aspects of the cell are controlled and which are measured. The three main categories are potentiometry (the difference in electrode potentials is measured), coulometry (the cell's current is measured over time), and voltammetry (the cell's current is measured while actively altering the cell's potential).

Thermal analysis

Calorimetry and thermogravimetric analysis measure the interaction of a material and heat.


Separation processes are used to decrease the complexity of material mixtures. Chromatography and electrophoresis are representative of this field.

Hybrid techniques

Combinations of the above techniques produce "hybrid" or "hyphenated" techniques. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] Several examples are in popular use today and new hybrid techniques are under development.

Hyphenated separation techniques refer to a combination of two or more techniques to separate chemicals from solutions and detect them. Most often, the other technique is some form of chromatography. Hyphenated techniques are widely used in chemistry and biochemistry. A slash is sometimes used instead of hyphen, especially if the name of one of the methods contains a hyphen itself.

Examples of hyphenated techniques:


The visualization of single molecules, single biological cells, biological tissues and nanomaterials is very important and attractive approach in analytical science. Also, hybridization with other traditional analytical tools is revolutionizing analytical science. Microscopy can be categorized into three different fields: optical microscopy, electron microscopy, and scanning probe microscopy. Recently, this field has been rapidly progressing because of the rapid development of the computer and camera industries.


Devices that integrate multiple laboratory functions on a single chip of only a few square millimeters or centimeters in size and that are capable of handling extremely small fluid volumes down to less than picoliters.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Analytical chemistry</span> Study of the separation, identification, and quantification of the chemical components of materials

Analytical chemistry studies and uses instruments and methods to separate, identify, and quantify matter. In practice, separation, identification or quantification may constitute the entire analysis or be combined with another method. Separation isolates analytes. Qualitative analysis identifies analytes, while quantitative analysis determines the numerical amount or concentration.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry</span> Type of mass spectrometry that uses an inductively coupled plasma to ionize the sample

Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is a type of mass spectrometry that uses an inductively coupled plasma to ionize the sample. It atomizes the sample and creates atomic and small polyatomic ions, which are then detected. It is known and used for its ability to detect metals and several non-metals in liquid samples at very low concentrations. It can detect different isotopes of the same element, which makes it a versatile tool in isotopic labeling.

Mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical technique that is used to measure the mass-to-charge ratio of ions. The results are presented as a mass spectrum, a plot of intensity as a function of the mass-to-charge ratio. Mass spectrometry is used in many different fields and is applied to pure samples as well as complex mixtures.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Electron ionization</span> Ionization technique

Electron ionization is an ionization method in which energetic electrons interact with solid or gas phase atoms or molecules to produce ions. EI was one of the first ionization techniques developed for mass spectrometry. However, this method is still a popular ionization technique. This technique is considered a hard ionization method, since it uses highly energetic electrons to produce ions. This leads to extensive fragmentation, which can be helpful for structure determination of unknown compounds. EI is the most useful for organic compounds which have a molecular weight below 600. Also, several other thermally stable and volatile compounds in solid, liquid and gas states can be detected with the use of this technique when coupled with various separation methods.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Electrospray ionization</span> Technique used in mass spectroscopy

Electrospray ionization (ESI) is a technique used in mass spectrometry to produce ions using an electrospray in which a high voltage is applied to a liquid to create an aerosol. It is especially useful in producing ions from macromolecules because it overcomes the propensity of these molecules to fragment when ionized. ESI is different from other ionization processes since it may produce multiple-charged ions, effectively extending the mass range of the analyser to accommodate the kDa-MDa orders of magnitude observed in proteins and their associated polypeptide fragments.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Metabolomics</span> Scientific study of chemical processes involving metabolites

Metabolomics is the scientific study of chemical processes involving metabolites, the small molecule substrates, intermediates, and products of cell metabolism. Specifically, metabolomics is the "systematic study of the unique chemical fingerprints that specific cellular processes leave behind", the study of their small-molecule metabolite profiles. The metabolome represents the complete set of metabolites in a biological cell, tissue, organ, or organism, which are the end products of cellular processes. Messenger RNA (mRNA), gene expression data, and proteomic analyses reveal the set of gene products being produced in the cell, data that represents one aspect of cellular function. Conversely, metabolic profiling can give an instantaneous snapshot of the physiology of that cell, and thus, metabolomics provides a direct "functional readout of the physiological state" of an organism. There are indeed quantifiable correlations between the metabolome and the other cellular ensembles, which can be used to predict metabolite abundances in biological samples from, for example mRNA abundances. One of the ultimate challenges of systems biology is to integrate metabolomics with all other -omics information to provide a better understanding of cellular biology.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry</span> Analytical chemistry technique

Liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC–MS) is an analytical chemistry technique that combines the physical separation capabilities of liquid chromatography with the mass analysis capabilities of mass spectrometry (MS). Coupled chromatography - MS systems are popular in chemical analysis because the individual capabilities of each technique are enhanced synergistically. While liquid chromatography separates mixtures with multiple components, mass spectrometry provides spectral information that may help to identify each separated component. MS is not only sensitive, but provides selective detection, relieving the need for complete chromatographic separation. LC-MS is also appropriate for metabolomics because of its good coverage of a wide range of chemicals. This tandem technique can be used to analyze biochemical, organic, and inorganic compounds commonly found in complex samples of environmental and biological origin. Therefore, LC-MS may be applied in a wide range of sectors including biotechnology, environment monitoring, food processing, and pharmaceutical, agrochemical, and cosmetic industries. Since the early 2000s, LC-MS has also begun to be used in clinical applications.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Atmospheric-pressure chemical ionization</span>

Atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) is an ionization method used in mass spectrometry which utilizes gas-phase ion-molecule reactions at atmospheric pressure (105 Pa), commonly coupled with high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). APCI is a soft ionization method similar to chemical ionization where primary ions are produced on a solvent spray. The main usage of APCI is for polar and relatively less polar thermally stable compounds with molecular weight less than 1500 Da. The application of APCI with HPLC has gained a large popularity in trace analysis detection such as steroids, pesticides and also in pharmacology for drug metabolites.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thermospray</span>

Thermospray is a soft ionization source by which a solvent flow of liquid sample passes through a very thin heated column to become a spray of fine liquid droplets. As a form of atmospheric pressure ionization in mass spectrometry these droplets are then ionized via a low-current discharge electrode to create a solvent ion plasma. A repeller then directs these charged particles through the skimmer and acceleration region to introduce the aerosolized sample to a mass spectrometer. It is particularly useful in liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS).

Sample preparation for mass spectrometry is used for the optimization of a sample for analysis in a mass spectrometer (MS). Each ionization method has certain factors that must be considered for that method to be successful, such as volume, concentration, sample phase, and composition of the analyte solution. Quite possibly the most important consideration in sample preparation is knowing what phase the sample must be in for analysis to be successful. In some cases the analyte itself must be purified before entering the ion source. In other situations, the matrix, or everything in the solution surrounding the analyte, is the most important factor to consider and adjust. Often, sample preparation itself for mass spectrometry can be avoided by coupling mass spectrometry to a chromatography method, or some other form of separation before entering the mass spectrometer. In some cases, the analyte itself must be adjusted so that analysis is possible, such as in protein mass spectrometry, where usually the protein of interest is cleaved into peptides before analysis, either by in-gel digestion or by proteolysis in solution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Laser spray ionization</span>

Laser spray ionization refers to one of several methods for creating ions using a laser interacting with a spray of neutral particles or ablating material to create a plume of charged particles. The ions thus formed can be separated by m/z with mass spectrometry. Laser spray is one of several ion sources that can be coupled with liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry for the detection of larger molecules.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Two-dimensional chromatography</span>

Two-dimensional chromatography is a type of chromatographic technique in which the injected sample is separated by passing through two different separation stages. Two different chromatographic columns are connected in sequence, and the effluent from the first system is transferred onto the second column. Typically the second column has a different separation mechanism, so that bands that are poorly resolved from the first column may be completely separated in the second column. Alternately, the two columns might run at different temperatures. During the second stage of separation the rate at which the separation occurs must be faster than the first stage, since there is still only a single detector. The plane surface is amenable to sequential development in two directions using two different solvents.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Capillary electrophoresis–mass spectrometry</span>

Capillary electrophoresis–mass spectrometry (CE-MS) is an analytical chemistry technique formed by the combination of the liquid separation process of capillary electrophoresis with mass spectrometry. CE-MS combines advantages of both CE and MS to provide high separation efficiency and molecular mass information in a single analysis. It has high resolving power and sensitivity, requires minimal volume and can analyze at high speed. Ions are typically formed by electrospray ionization, but they can also be formed by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization or other ionization techniques. It has applications in basic research in proteomics and quantitative analysis of biomolecules as well as in clinical medicine. Since its introduction in 1987, new developments and applications have made CE-MS a powerful separation and identification technique. Use of CE-MS has increased for protein and peptides analysis and other biomolecules. However, the development of online CE-MS is not without challenges. Understanding of CE, the interface setup, ionization technique and mass detection system is important to tackle problems while coupling capillary electrophoresis to mass spectrometry.

Bioanalysis is a sub-discipline of analytical chemistry covering the quantitative measurement of xenobiotics and biotics in biological systems.

Atmospheric pressure laser ionization is an atmospheric pressure ionization method for mass spectrometry (MS). Laser light in the UV range is used to ionize molecules in a resonance-enhanced multiphoton ionization (REMPI) process. It is a selective and sensitive ionization method for aromatic and polyaromatic compounds. Atmospheric photoionization is the latest in development of atmospheric ionization methods.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Atmospheric pressure photoionization</span> Soft ionization method

Atmospheric pressure photoionization (APPI) is a soft ionization method used in mass spectrometry (MS) usually coupled to liquid chromatography (LC). Molecules are ionized using a vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) light source operating at atmospheric pressure, either by direct absorption followed by electron ejection or through ionization of a dopant molecule that leads to chemical ionization of target molecules. The sample is usually a solvent spray that is vaporized by nebulization and heat. The benefit of APPI is that it ionizes molecules across a broad range of polarity and is particularly useful for ionization of low polarity molecules for which other popular ionization methods such as electrospray ionization (ESI) and atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) are less suitable. It is also less prone to ion suppression and matrix effects compared to ESI and APCI and typically has a wide linear dynamic range. The application of APPI with LC/MS is commonly used for analysis of petroleum compounds, pesticides, steroids, and drug metabolites lacking polar functional groups and is being extensively deployed for ambient ionization particularly for explosives detection in security applications.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James Jorgenson</span>

James Wallace Jorgenson is an American academic who previously held the position of William Rand Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill. He is best known for his work developing capillary zone electrophoresis, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

María del Coral Barbas Arribas is a professor at the Universidad CEU San Pablo in Madrid, Spain who is known for her research on metabolomics and integration of chemical data.


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