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Analytical chemistry laboratory tour

Take a virtual tour of an analytical chemistry laboratory

The analytical chemistry laboratories play important roles in the drug discovery process. The equipment is used to check the structures of new chemicals that are made in synthetic labs. Most synthetic chemists can interpret their own spectra, but for complex problems the analytical chemists can solve them using a combination of techniques. They also investigate by-products formed when chemical reactions are done in a bigger scale. Another crucial role is to check the purity of products made on a large scale which are destined for trials in patients

The techniques used in this laboratory have complicated names which are usually abbreviated.

NMR nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy
mass spec mass spectrometry
HPLC high performance liquid chromatography
GC gas chromatography
ICP inductively coupled plasma spectrometry
UV ultra violet spectroscopy
IR infra red spectroscopy

NMR is used to look at the nuclei of atoms and can "see" the relative positions of hydrogen and carbon atoms in molecules. Mass spec measures the molecular weight (formula mass) of molecules and is usually used in conjunction with HPLC which is used to separate mixtures and check purity. Other techniques that are regularly used are GC for analysing volatile compounds and ICP for measuring trace amounts of elements. UV and IR are rarely used as they are not very sensitive.