Chemistry is a major branch of science dealing with matter and its properties.
But the subject is quite vast and detailed that it has been diversified into branches and sub-branches.
Since all the branches are useful to man, they are also offered as part of a different set of courses and degrees.
These branches of chemistry are useful in fields like medicine, technology, food, and the environment. Thus, they are quite essential to study.
What are the Branches of Chemistry
1. Organic chemistry
As the name implies, it can be assumed that this deals with something related to living beings.
Though it is true, in scientific terms, it is the study of carbon compounds. It includes the study of all the possible compounds which have carbon in them.
However, some define organic chemistry as the study of compounds having carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.
Because pure carbon compounds like graphite, coal and diamond are non-reactive, they are least studied in this branch of chemistry.
There is a vast number of compounds which have diverse chemical properties. They find their uses in medicine, food, agriculture, sterilization, disinfection and also research.
Examples of compounds studied in this branch include; carbohydrates, benzene, amino-acids, vinegar, phenol, etc.
For a complete list, read examples of organic compounds along with their structure.
What is studied: In general the study includes synthesis, identification, purification, breakdown and also methods to discover new compounds and their applications.
2. Inorganic chemistry
This is the chemistry which studies compounds devoid of carbon.
This branch of chemistry has a massive list of chemicals which are naturally found in nature. But some of them are also synthesized in the laboratory.
The inorganic compounds find their use in medicine, food, agriculture and also technology.
Examples of compounds in this branch include
Acids: Hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid.
Salts: Sodium sulfate, potassium chloride;
Alkalies: Aluminum hydroxide, calcium hydroxide, etc.
Redox compounds: Potassium permanganate, potassium chlorate
This chemistry as the name implies is the study of biological chemistry.
Biochemistry deals with chemistry happening inside the living bodies of animals and plants.
This subject is huge and plays an important role in medicine, agriculture, poultry, fisheries, etc.
It helped in understanding the actual physiology of our bodies and the cause of diseases.
It deals with four significant biochemicals like
- Carbohydrates (monomers)
- Fats (lipids) and
- Nucleic acids (DNA, RNA).
and also few supporting elements like enzymes, vitamins, and hormones.
In plants, it explains the process of photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration.
While in animals, it describes their physiology and function. This includes processes like digestion, metabolism, excretion, respiration, and nerve conduction.
Its applications in daily life include glucose estimation (diabetic patients), fermentation, etc.
4. Physical chemistry
As the name indicates, it deals with the physical properties of chemicals or substances.
These include topics like gaseous laws (Dalton law), thermal conduction in liquids, gases, solids. The conductivity of electrolytes (used in batteries) liquids etc.
It also deals with processes like sublimation, melting point, boiling point, the crystal structure of compounds, etc.
This chemistry finds its applications in other branches of chemistry besides daily applications in industries, automobiles etc.
5. Medicinal chemistry
Chemistry plays a major role in medicine. Most medicines are of chemical nature. They are either organic or inorganic compounds. They have therapeutic potential due to their chemical nature.
Hence this chemistry tries to study the therapeutic property in the compound, with emphasis on its ability to bind to receptors, enzymes, bringing changes in the chemistry of the body etc.
The study includes an evaluation of SAR (structural activity relationship). This means when a functional group is changed or the position of an atom or functional group on the structure is changed, it leads to better efficiency and fewer side-effects.
The study also includes discovery of new compounds for medicine. Besides new methods to synthesize the compound at less cost are explored.
6. Analytical chemistry
This chemistry deals explicitly with the analysis of chemicals. Analytical chemistry plays a vital role in the quality control of products in the industry.
Also in research, analysis helps to identify and also explore properties of compounds.
There are so two types of analysis like qualitative and quantitative analysis.
Qualitative analysis deals with the estimation of the quality of compound and determination of impurities.
While quantitative analysis estimates the amount of the main compound in the given sample. Most methods of analysis estimate both qualitative and quantitative aspects. The study describes different methods of analysis like
- Titrimetric analysis by using titrations
- Electro-conductive methods
- Electrophoresis etc.
7. Nuclear chemistry
This branch of chemistry deals with radioactive elements. Their behavior like fission, fusion reactions, etc. This chemistry finds application in making atomic bombs, atomic energy for generating electricity.
Also see Branches of Physical Science