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In analytical chemistry, separation techniques are a set of sample preparation steps that increase the concentration of a target analyte in a sample by eliminating some portion of the impurities.  The impurities may be other substances also present in the sample, or they may be components of the matrix through which the analytes must pass before analysis.  The purified target is then subjected to the second part of the analytical chemistry process: identification and quantification, which involves either identifying the purified target by matching its retention time and fragmentation pattern with those of a known standard (in HPLC) or quantifying its concentration by comparing the amount of light emitted from a known volume of the purified target with that from a standard solution (in LC-MS/MS).

Analytical Chemistry

Separation techniques can be divided into two major categories:

chromatographic and electrophoretic.  Chromatographic techniques include gas, liquid and supercritical fluid chromatography, while electrophoretic techniques include capillary electrophoresis and field-flow fractionation.  The choice of technique often depends on the physical properties of the analytes, such as their size, charge and affinity to solvent.

Analytical chemistry offered at LabSPACE focuses on several fields using FTIR, UHPLC, UHPLC-MS and ELISA platforms for services in clinical chemistry, Pharmaceutical and Agricultural fields.

Clinical chemistry is the section of laboratory medicine that is concerned with measurements of amounts of biologically important substances found within humans (E.g., blood/plasma / Serum/urine/CSF-Cerebrospinal fluid).  It can either measure the administered compound (pharmacokinetics) or monitor the effect on specific biomarkers (pharmacodynamics).  It is a quantitative science that must be carried out carefully to provide accurate assessments.  Methods of measuring these substances are carefully designed to provide accurate results.

Analytical Chemistry

Good analytical chemistry services are essential for the success of any company, be it in governmental laboratories or small and large-scale operations.  The South African pharmaceutical industry is no different and has grown significantly over the past few decades.  Analytical chemistry labs in South Africa helps to test the purity, weight, and content of several different types of drugs and are important for controlling medication quality.  Pharmaceutical products in South Africa must be evaluated for their active components, impurities and degradation products.  LabSPACE focuses on post-importation testing, stability assessments, and toxicology (drugs of abuse) in the pharmaceutical field.  Post-importation testing of pharmaceutical products in South Africa aims to determine whether a medicinal product that has been imported into or supplied in the country meets the requirements of the Medicines and Related Substances Act before it is made available to patients and were not compromised during the shipment process.  Stability assessments in climatic chambers are required for all medicide, but new regulation now requires complementary medicines also to have their stability assessed and displayed in the packet leaflet.  LabSPACE Africa is also involved in testing drugs of abuse in collaboration with AXIOSEED Medical.  Government regulations in the pharmaceutical field are generally stringent, and audits occur after every step in the process (manufacturing, packaging, storage, transport).

Different applications within the agriculture industry.

Analytical Chemistry has a variety of different applications within the agriculture industry.  This includes testing for the quality of produce, determining the purity of source material and evaluation of contaminants in various products such as animal feed, food products, chemical reagents, fertilizers.  It is essential to ensure foodstuffs are not contaminated with biological toxins, toxic trace materials or prohibited biological compounds like growth hormones and steroids.

Analytical Chemistry

LabSPACE Africa is an analytical chemistry laboratory in South Africa that provides contract analytical services to pharmaceutical companies worldwide.  LabSPACE has an extensive range of equipment capabilities, including SMIMADZU UHPLC and UHPLC spectrometer and Perkin Elmer Plate reader.  LabSPACE Africa was established in 2021 with its first Laboratory in Midrand, Gauteng.  LabSPACE also works closely with companies like AXIOLOGY Labs, Shimadzu, Perkin Elmer, Inception Biosciences, Pathogen DX and the Pharmacology department of Stellenbosch University.

LabSPACE Africa provides various services to the analytical science community.  It offers routine analysis of samples as well as custom services such as method development and research collaborations in the pharmaceutical, chemicals, agricultural, clinical and foods industries.  Visit our website or contact us via email to discuss your analytical chemistry needs.

What is Analytical Chemistry? – Definition & Impact

To first understand analytical chemistry, it’s important to understand chemistry in its simplest form, which is the study of matter, since analytical chemistry is a discipline within this field of study. 

Analytical chemistry is the qualitative and quantitative study of matter, i.e., what is present and the amount. This definition of analytical chemistry is why many argue that analytical chemistry isn’t a sub-discipline of chemistry. Rather, it’s the same, according to David Harvey, a professor of chemistry at DePauw University.

Harvey explains, however, that analytical chemistry isn’t the same because analytical chemists don’t conduct routine analyses on routine samples. Instead, an analytical chemist is that process of “improving established methods, extending existing methods to new types of samples, and developing new methods for measuring chemical phenomena.”

So, in the simplest terms, analytical chemistry defines what the matter is and how much (the mass) of said matter exists. 

Analytical Chemistry’s Impact

The discipline of analytical chemistry is highly influential to our perception of the physical world and for the progress of other scientists’ studies. These studies provide the world with knowledge and tools for further understanding of physical objects, which, in turn, has had a phenomenal impact on society. 

For example, a popular breakthrough was a way for doctors to diagnose or see signs of a future diagnosis of diabetes through the measure of glucose.

What is an Example of Analytical Chemistry? 

We can illustrate analytical chemistry with an example from a publication by the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding an overseas U.S. Air Force base using powdered milk for meals. 

Powdered milk needs to be rehydrated, so this base used the local water and received complaints of foul-tasting milk, finding that something is polluting the water. An analytical chemist can analyze the water by isolating and identifying the pollutants in the water and, thus, finding the source of pollution. 

The analytical chemist’s job is to develop a solution to isolate the chemical compounds in the water. For example, high-performance liquid chromatography can determine pollutants in liquids. In the end, the chemist’s findings showed that upstream chemical plants caused the polluted water.

What do Analytical Chemists do?

In modern analytical chemistry, analytical chemists solve problems by measuring the chemical composition of chemical compounds through qualitative and quantitative analysis. Their mission is to answer these four questions of an element: What is it? Where is it? How much exists? And what is its structure and composition? 

Process of Analysis

The typical process of analytical sciences uses a five-step approach. Those steps are identifying, designing, experimenting, analyzing, and sharing the solution.

1. Identify

The identification phase is the process of an analytical chemist identifying the problem they’re attempting to solve. It also entails determining the type of tests to use, i.e., qualitative, quantitative, structure, or fundamental.

At this stage, chemical analysts determine the required accuracy of their results, the budget, and the time frame. 

2. Design

The design of the experiment is the process of selecting a method, strategy, and sample. One important factor a chemical analyst needs to know is what tools and techniques are already available for the problem they’re looking to solve. 

3. Experiment

After defining the problem and designing the experiment, the chemical analyst experiments using the appropriate instruments and equipment in their laboratory. 

Experiments requiring chemical separation may involve distillation, precipitation, solvent extraction, solid-phase extraction, high-performance liquid chromatography, or electrochemical analysis. In this stage, the purpose is to gather data from the experiment.

4. Analyze Data

Next, the chemical analyst analyzes the data with statistical analysis for reliability, verification of accuracy and limitations, and interpreting their findings for the client. The chemist repeats the second, third, and fourth steps to confirm a solution. 

Types of Chemical Analyst Employers

Several industries employ analytical chemists; some of the most popular fields are:

  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Government agencies
  • Industrial industry
  • Testing laboratories
  • Biological industry
  • Environmental sector
  • Drug manufacturing companies
  • Energy and Petrochemical companies
  • Nonprofit organization

Typical Hours of Work

Chemical analysts are always in the laboratory environment, working a standard 40 hours a week or longer. One responsibility of analytical chemists is to meet deadlines, which may require working over 40 hours a week.  

Chemical Analyst Average Salary 

According to GlassDoor, an analytical chemist makes an average annual salary of $52K, while wages for senior-level positions and leadership positions range between an average of $86,143 and $89,451.

How Many Years Does it Take to Study Analytical Chemistry? 

Aspiring analytical chemists should attain a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, engineering, or chemistry. In addition, they should conduct assisted research and complete a chemical internship. 

Chemists who graduate from a four-year university are on their way to becoming a chemist. Still, those who want to research or desire a higher average salary should consider continuing higher education for a master’s degree.


  • High School diploma
  • Bachelor’s degree with focus or courses in math, chemistry, physics, etc.
  • Research and/or laboratory technician internship in a laboratory environment
  • Masters or Ph.D. to teach or work for analytical chemistry companies like analytical chemistry labs in South Africa
  • Join a scientific organization to stay updated in the scientific community like ACS chemists (American Chemical Society).

Skills & Knowledge

  • Advanced general and organic chemistry knowledge
  • Mathematics (Calculus)
  • Computer skills and engineering
  • Mass spectroscopy
  • High-performance liquid chromatography 
  • Advanced communication skills
  • Logic, reason, and solving problems
  • Analytical techniques
  • Data analysis
  • Gravimetric analysis

The duration of studying to become an analytical chemist is at least four years and two to six additional years for a master’s or Ph.D.

Final Thoughts: What is Analytical Chemistry in Simple Terms?

Analytical chemistry is a discipline within the field of chemistry. It is the process of defining matter by defining what it is and the amount in existence. The practice is a complex profession of chemists working to advance the scientific field and further understand properties in the physical world. 

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