Search the World of Chemistry

×

Chemistry and Its Branches

07th Apr 2019 @ 17 min read

Basic Chemistry

What is Chemistry

Chemistry is a branch of science which deals with the study of matter composed of atoms and molecules, their properties, composition, structure, behaviour, and interactions among constituents of matter.

Chemistry is a very fascinating subject. We all are surrounded by chemistry. Everything around us composes of atoms and molecules including our bodies itself. We can see chemistry in our day-to-day activities; right from the production of food in farms to cooking them in a kitchen, from a bicycle to a space rocket from phones to computers. Steel used in buildings, polymers that make plastic bags, cell phone batteries, photosynthesis, detergents, clothes, dyes and colours, beverages, etc., are some of the examples where chemistry is applied. Chemistry helps us to understand the world we see and experience.

Branches of Chemistry

Today, chemistry has become a very diverse subject with large numbers of branches. Modern chemistry can be categories into five main branches which are discussed below.

Main Branches of chemistry

The five main branches of chemistry are Physical chemistry, Analytical chemistry, Inorganic chemistry, Organic chemistry, and Biochemistry.

Branches of chemistry
Main branches of chemistry

Physical Chemistry

As from the name Physical Chemistry is the combination of Physics and Chemistry. Physical Chemistry has a good overlap with some of the branches of Physics. It is a sub-branch of science that deals with the study of macroscopic properties like pressure, volume etc.; atomic properties like ionization energy, electronegativity, valency etc. It also deals with the structure of matter and energy.

Some of the areas of study in Physical Chemistry are mentioned below:

  1. Chemical Kinetics: It is the study of rates of chemical reaction.
  2. Thermochemistry: It is an area pertaining to thermodynamics which deals with heat in the chemical system and its relation to work.
  3. Surface Chemistry: It is an area of the study of chemical processes at surfaces of materials.
  4. Photochemistry: It is the study of chemical reactions which take place in the presence of light.
  5. Spectroscopy: It concerns with electromagnetic radiations and how they interact with atoms and molecules.
  6. Statistical Mechanics: It is the statistical study of large numbers of atom and molecules. Statistical Mechanics is one of a subject where Physics and Chemistry overlap each other.
  7. Quantum Chemistry: It is an application of Quantum Mechanics to the chemical system.
  8. Electrochemistry: It is a branch of physical chemistry which deals with chemical changes involving the movement of electrons between the electrodes.
  9. Femtochemistry: It is the study of chemical reactions in femtoscale (10−15 seconds). It helps us to understand each and every movement of molecules.

Analytical Chemistry

It is a branch of Chemistry that focusses on qualitative and quantitative methods to analyse properties of matter. In short, it deals with the analysis of chemicals. It has huge applications in chemical industries to maintain the quality of the final finished product. In real life, the steps in the analysis are separation, identification and finally quantification. In separation, we separate the constituents from the mixture. After isolating the desired sample, we identify its constituent by qualitative analysis. And finally, we estimate the concentration of analytes by quantitative analysis.

There are two classical methods used in Analytical Chemistry: qualitative and quantitative. The qualitative method involves identification of chemical constituents (atoms, molecules, ions etc.) in the substances. In the quantitative method determines the concentration of a substance in a given sample. With progress in science and technology, we are able to develop various instruments which can give better accuracy and precision.

Analytical Chemistry is not only about the analysis of substances, but also improving the existing analysis techniques and developing new ones.

Some of the common analysis methods are as follows:

  1. Flame tests: The test involves subjecting a given sample to the flame (reducing or oxidizing) and then observing the colour of the flame. The colour of the flame gives us an idea of a constituent present in the sample. This test is hardly used in industries or in a professional world.
  2. Chemical tests: It is used to identify functional groups in a given sample by conducting a series of chemical reaction on the sample.
  3. Titrations (or Volumetric analysis): It involves the addition of a known titrant in the solution until the equivalence point is reached.
  4. Gravimetry: It is a quantitative technique that is used to estimate the amount of substance present based on the difference of mass after a change.
  5. Chromatography: It is a separation technique that consists of mobile phase (a fluid carrying a given sample) which flows on the stationary phase. Based on the affinity of the mobile phase ingredients towards the stationary phase, the retention of ingredients on the stationary phase takes place.
  6. Spectroscopy: It is the study of how atoms and molecules interact with electromagnetic radiations.
  7. Electrochemical analysis: It is a method of analysis in which the analyte is studied by passing electricity and measuring voltage and current over time.
  8. Electrophoresis: It is a separation method in which dispersed particles are separated under the influence of an electric field.

Inorganic Chemistry

It is a branch of Chemistry which deals with the study of inorganic compounds. Inorganic compounds are compounds which do not contain carbon-hydrogen bond. Inorganic compounds largely found beneath the earth surface: rocks and minerals, and others are produced in chemical industries. Inorganic chemicals have applications in paint, pigment, coating, fertilizer, surfactant, disinfectant, solar power industries. The largest inorganic chemicals produced in the world are sulphuric acid, hydrogen, nitrogen, ammonia, chlorine, phosphorus pentaoxide, nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide.

Some of the areas in Inorganic chemistry are as follows:

  1. Coordination Chemistry: It consists of the study of coordination complexes. Coordination complexes are composed of a centre atom typically a metal surrounded by ligands or complexing agent.
  2. Organometallic Chemistry: It is the study of organometallic compounds which consist of compounds having a metal-carbon-hydrogen bond (organometallic bond). This field is included in both organic as well as inorganic chemistry.
  3. Bioinorganic Chemistry: This covers the interaction of inorganic species like metals in cells and tissues.
  4. Solid-State Chemistry (or Material Chemistry): It is the study of properties, structures of solid-state phase. It is a part of Solid-State Physics.

Organic Chemistry

It is a branch of Chemistry which deals with the study of organic compounds. organic compounds are compounds which contain carbon-hydrogen bond. Carbon is capable of forming long C-C chains (called catenation). It is because of this property of carbon, it forms a tremendous number of compounds. This is a reason why organic compounds exceed inorganic compounds. Other than carbon and hydrogen, the elements widely found in organic compounds are oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur, phosphorus, and halogens (fluorine, chlorine and iodine). Organics compounds are used in agriculture, food, medicine, polymer, textile, insecticide, pharmaceutical, rubber, fuel, and consumer good industries. Some of the industrial important organic chemicals are methane, ethylene, propylene, 1,2-dichloroethylene, methanol, isopropyl alcohol, butane, acetylene, polystyrene, glycerol, acetone, acetic acid, acetic anhydride, urea, toluene, phenol, aniline. glucose, fructose, starch etc.

Important areas in Organic Chemistry are mentioned below.

  1. Polymer Chemistry: It deals with the synthesis and properties of polymers.
  2. Organometallics Chemistry: It is the study of organometallic compounds which consist of compounds having a metal-carbon-hydrogen bond (organometallic bond). This field is included in both organic as well as inorganic chemistry.
  3. Physical Organic Chemistry: It is the study of reactivity and structure of organic chemicals.
  4. Stereochemistry: It is a chemistry that studies stereoisomers. It focusses on the spatial arrangement of atoms.
  5. Medicinal Chemistry: It involves the application of chemistry for medicine and drug development.
  6. Bioorganic Chemistry: It is the combination of Organic and Biochemistry.

Biochemistry

Biochemistry is the field of science that emphases on the study of chemical processes inside the biological system. Biochemistry is a new field compare to the above branches of chemistry. Professionals in this arena of Chemistry are called Biochemist. Biochemistry focusses on uses of chemistry to better understand biological systems like respiration, digestion, cellular metabolism etc. Biochemists work on diseases like cancer to develop better treatment; they also study molecular genetics to improve genes.

The important areas of study in Biochemistry are as follows:

  1. Molecular Genetic: It involves the studies of genes. It is closely related to genetic engineering.
  2. Agricultural Biochemistry: It focusses on the implementation of biochemistry to improve agriculture production.
  3. Molecular Biochemistry: It deals with the study of macromolecules like proteins, membranes, enzymes, nucleic acids, amino acids, viruses etc.
  4. Clinical Biochemistry: It is all about diseases and related topics.
  5. Immunochemistry: It is a branch of biochemistry that concerned with chemical reaction associated with the immune system.

Other Disciplines of Chemistry

Chemistry is not limited to the above five branches, but there are many other specialized branches of chemistry developed over a period of time.

Astrochemistry

It is the study of chemical reactions in outer space. Astrochemistry is closely related to Astronomy.

Geochemistry

It is the study of chemical systems in the geological environment. Geochemists works on studying activities like mining, oil extraction, the formation of rocks, petroleum formation.

Food Chemistry

Food chemists study the various biological constituents of food. The main constituent in any biological system are carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Food chemists ameliorate the quality of food. The quality of food can be improved by increasing the lifespan of food, by proper storage and maintaining the sensory aspects like odour, colour, the taste of food.

Chemical Engineering

Chemical Engineers work can be divided into two main categories: innovating new products and industrial applications. In industries, they work to process chemicals, troubleshoot the problems, maintain the daily production quantity. This is a mostly field job. They also work in developing and improving new methods for better production of chemicals. While in a lab, they mostly spend time on developing new materials.

Forensic Chemistry

Forensic Chemistry is an application of Analytical Chemistry. It involves the analysis of various samples by analytic methods to identify criminals. Forensic chemists work in labs and are mainly employed by government agencies.

Nuclear chemistry

This branch of chemistry deals with the study of reactions at the atomic level like fission, fusion. Nuclear scientists work in developing nuclear bombs, nuclear power. The conversion of nuclear power into electricity is one of the main achievements of nuclear scientists.

Neurochemistry

It is the study of chemicals associated with the nerves system (also called as neurochemicals). Neurochemicals include glutamate, glycine, dopamine, norepinephrine, adenosine, histamine etc.

Cosmochemistry

It is the study of chemical components of matter in the universe.

Atmospheric Chemistry

It focusses on the understanding of the complex chemical processes in the atmosphere of a planet. It is a very important area to understand climate change.

Phytochemistry

It is closely connected to botany. It is the study of Phytochemicals which chemicals obtained from plants.

Ocean Chemistry

It is also called Marine Chemistry which deals with the study of chemical processes in oceans.

Petrochemistry

The branch of Chemistry dealing with crude oil, petroleum, natural gas and its processing and refining. Petrochemistry is a very important segment since most of our energy requirements are fulfilled by end crude oil products like gasoline, diesel, LPG etc.

Mathematical Chemistry

It is an implementation of Mathematics to model various chemical processes. It is a combination of Mathematics and Chemistry.

Mechanochemistry

In Mechanochemistry, chemical reactions are brought by applying mechanical energy to molecules. It is an emerging field. It is a combination of chemistry and mechanical engineering.

Radiochemistry

It deals with the use of radioactive substances to study ordinary chemical reactions.

Sonochemistry

It is a branch of science that focusses on how ultrasonic waves (high-frequency sound) affect chemical systems.

Supramolecular Chemistry

This branch involves the study of intermolecular forces formed by non-covalent bonds like Van der Waal forces, hydrogen bonds, metal coordination etc.

Industrial Chemistry

It is the study of industrial processes to convert raw materials into products. It comes between lab-based research and industrial scale production. An industrial chemist and a chemical engineer are closely related. an industrial chemist is focused more on the chemistry aspect of the process. While a chemical engineer is more concerned with up-scaling the process in an economical way.

Environmental Chemistry

Environment Chemistry deals with the study of chemical interactions in air, soil and water environment. Environmental chemists apply the knowledge of chemistry to understand the environment.

Green Chemistry

Green Chemistry aims to reduce the harmful substances in the environment by improving chemical processes and developing alternative routes. It is also called Sustainable Chemistry; It should not be confused with Environment Chemistry.

Interconnections among various branches of chemistry
Many branches of chemistry overlap with each other.

Associated Articles

If you appreciate our work, consider supporting us on ❤️ patreon.
Basic Chemistry

Copy Article Cite

Thanks for your response!
Write a response


Join the Newsletter

Subscribe to get latest content in your inbox.

newsletter

We won’t send you spam.