Branches of Chemistry

The branch of science that deals with the identification of the substances of which matter is composed; the investigation of their properties and the ways in which they interact, combine, and change; and the use of these processes to form new substances(Oxford Dictionary)

Chemistry, as a field of study within the domain of physical science, is primarily concerned with the systematic investigation and examination of diverse substances, embracing both individual elements and complex compounds. The primary objective of this activity is to examine and evaluate the attributes, behavior, structures, and practical applications of the chemicals.

Branches of Chemistry
Branches of Chemistry

While early civilizations had a basic comprehension of the differentiation between chemicals and compounds, the formal field of chemistry came into existence during the period known as the “Age of Enlightenment”. At this particular juncture, scientific methodologies were developed, incorporating the principles of empiricism and rationalism, in contrast to the dependence on supernaturalistic concepts.

Over the course of time, the field of chemistry has progressively evolved into a distinct and specialized scientific discipline, characterized by its various branches.

Branches of Chemistry

Chemistry, originating from the Egyptian term kēme (chem), denoting “earth,” is a scientific discipline that investigates the constitution, arrangement, and characteristics of substances, as well as the transformations they experience in the course of chemical reactions. Chemistry is commonly recognized as a fundamental scientific discipline due to its pivotal role in establishing connections between the physical sciences, including chemistry itself, and the realms of life sciences and applied sciences, such as medicine and engineering.

Inorganic Chemistry

  • Inorganic chemistry is a specialized field within the realm of chemistry that focuses on the comprehensive examination and analysis of compounds that lack carbon-hydrogen bonds, commonly referred to as inorganic compounds.
  • Inorganic compounds are chemical substances that lack the presence of a carbon-hydrogen bond within their molecular structure.
  • Inorganic compounds predominantly reside beneath the terrestrial crust, ensconced within geological formations such as rocks and minerals, while others are synthetically generated within the realm of chemical enterprises.
  • Inorganic chemicals find diverse applications across various industries, such as paint, pigment, coating, fertilizer, surfactant, disinfectant, and solar power.
  • The most prominent inorganic chemicals manufactured on a global scale encompass sulfuric acid (H2SO4), hydrogen, nitrogen, ammonia, chlorine, phosphorus pentaoxide (P2O5), nitric acid (HNO3), hydrochloric acid (HCl), and sodium hydroxide (NaOH).

In the realm of Inorganic chemistry, several notable domains emerge, encompassing but not limited to the following:

Co-ordination Chemistry

  • The field of Coordination Chemistry encompasses the comprehensive examination of coordination complexes.
  • Coordination complexes manifest a remarkably intricate configuration, distinguished by the existence of a central atom, commonly of metallic origin, encompassed by an assemblage of ligands or complexing agents.
  • The presence of a variety of anions or neutral molecules that are intricately connected to a central atom through the creation of coordinate covalent bonds defines coordination compounds, commonly referred to as complex compounds.
  • Coordination compounds, also referred to as coordination complexes, encompass a distinct category of chemical compounds characterized by their distinctive structural and bonding configuration.

Organometallic Chemistry

  • The field of organometallic chemistry is dedicated to the analysis and investigation of compounds containing metal-carbon bonds.
  • These compounds exhibit the presence of a bond known as an organometallic bond, which involves a linkage between metal, carbon, and hydrogen.
  • Metalloid elements, including silicon, tin, and boron, have been observed to exhibit the ability to form organometallic compounds.
  • These compounds find applications in various industrial chemical reactions.
  • This field is characterized by the integration of both organic and inorganic chemistry.

Solid-State Chemistry / Material Chemistry

  • Solid-state chemistry, also known as material chemistry, encompasses the comprehensive investigation of the properties and structures exhibited by the solid-state phase.
  • The field of solid-state chemistry encompasses the comprehensive investigation of the structural characteristics, properties, and synthetic methodologies pertaining to solid materials. This field is occasionally referred to as materials chemistry. 
  • Solid-state chemistry is a discipline that delves into the intricate understanding of compounds. This particular tool facilitates comprehension of the compound’s properties, encompassing its molecular composition as well as its crystalline structure.
  • In the field of solid-state chemistry, compounds that don’t follow the rules of stoichiometry are called “exclusive solid-state compounds” because of their unique structure and thermodynamic properties.

Bioinorganic Chemistry

  • Bioinorganic chemistry is a discipline that explores the convergence of inorganic chemistry and biochemistry.
  • This pertains to the interaction of inorganic species, such as metals, within cells and tissues.
  • Inorganic molecules, such as metal ions and coordination compounds, play a vital role in various organisms by facilitating molecular transportation and serving as essential components of enzymes.

Organic Chemistry

  • The discipline of organic chemistry encompasses a thorough examination of the complex structures, elemental composition, inherent properties, and dynamic reactions displayed by compounds distinguished by the presence of carbon atoms and the resulting carbon-hydrogen bonding.
  • The domain of organic chemistry is distinguished by its inherent propensity for innovation, as scholars actively participate in the creation of original compounds and the investigation of sophisticated techniques for the synthesis of established compounds.
  • Organic chemistry is a discipline within the field of chemistry that focuses on the investigation and analysis of organic substances. Organic compounds are defined as substances that possess carbon-hydrogen bonds.
  • Carbon exhibits the ability to engage in catenation, wherein it can create extended chains of carbon-carbon (C-C) bonds. The formation of a vast array of compounds can be attributed to the inherent property of carbon. One of the factors contributing to the superiority of organic molecules over inorganic compounds is as follows.
  • In addition to carbon and hydrogen, organic molecules commonly contain components such as oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, and halogens (specifically fluorine, chlorine, and iodine).
  • Organic compounds find extensive applications in several industries such as agriculture, food production, medicine, polymer manufacturing, textile production, insecticide formulation, pharmaceutical development, rubber production, fuel production, and consumer goods manufacturing.
  • A selection of organic chemicals that hold industrial significance includes methane, ethylene, propylene, 1,2-dichloroethylene, methanol, isopropyl alcohol, butane, acetylene, polystyrene, glycerol, acetone, acetic acid, acetic anhydride, urea, toluene, phenol, and aniline. The compounds glucose, fructose, and starch are examples of carbohydrates commonly found in biological systems.

Within the field of organic chemistry, numerous significant domains arise, which include but are not restricted to the following:

Organometallics Chemistry

  • The field of Organometallic Chemistry pertains to the investigation of organometallic compounds, characterized by the presence of a connection between metal and carbon as well as hydrogen (often referred to as an organometallic bond).
  • Metalloid elements, including silicon, tin, and boron, have been observed to exhibit the ability to form organometallic compounds.
  • These compounds find applications in various industrial chemical reactions.
  • This particular discipline is encompassed by the domains of both organic and inorganic chemistry.

Polymer Chemistry

  • Polymer chemistry is a specialized discipline within the field of chemistry that is dedicated to the comprehensive study of chemical structures, chemical synthesis, and the thorough analysis of the chemical and physical properties of polymers and macromolecules.
  • The principles and methodologies utilized in polymer chemistry demonstrate broad applicability in various sub-disciplines of chemistry, such as organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, and physical chemistry.
  • A diverse array of materials demonstrate polymeric structures, including inorganic metals and ceramics, as well as biological molecules like DNA.
  • Nevertheless, polymer chemistry is commonly associated with the study of synthetic and organic components.

Stereochemistry

  • Stereochemistry is a specialized field within the realm of chemistry that focuses on investigating the precise spatial configuration of atoms within molecules and the techniques used to manipulate these arrangements.
  • The field of stereochemistry is dedicated to examining the correlations among stereoisomers. Stereoisomers, by definition, possess identical molecular formulas and sequences of bonded atoms (constitution), but exhibit variations in the spatial arrangement of atoms.
  • The field of stereochemistry encompasses a wide range of disciplines, including organic, inorganic, biological, physical, and particularly supramolecular chemistry.

Physical Organic Chemistry

  • Physical organic chemistry is a scientific discipline that focuses on investigating the reactivity and structural properties of organic chemicals.
  • Physical organic chemists utilize a combination of theoretical and experimental approaches to acquire a thorough comprehension of fundamental aspects within the field of organic chemistry.
  • The methods employed in this field encompass classical and statistical thermodynamic calculations, quantum mechanical theory, computational chemistry, as well as experimental techniques including spectroscopy (such as NMR), spectrometry (such as MS), and crystallography.

Bioorganic Chemistry

  • Bioorganic Chemistry is a field that merges the principles of Organic Chemistry with those of Biochemistry.
  • The field of bioorganic chemistry has arisen through the integration of two well-established scientific disciplines: chemistry and biochemistry. The field of study is currently undergoing significant expansion and is focused on the utilization of chemical techniques for the exploration of biological processes.
  • Biochemistry is occasionally used interchangeably with bioorganic chemistry; however, the latter term is more appropriate for the discipline that specifically focuses on the biological aspects of organic chemistry.
  • Bioorganic chemistry has been extensively employed to investigate the functions of carbohydrates and peptides, as well as to enhance our understanding of molecular recognition and biosynthesis processes.

Medicinal Chemistry

  • Medicinal Chemistry involves the application of chemical principles and techniques in the field of medicine, specifically in the development of pharmaceutical drugs.
  • Medicinal Chemistry is a scientific field that focuses on the discovery or design of new therapeutic chemicals and their subsequent development into effective medicines.
  • Essentially, the topic under discussion is multidisciplinary in nature. It spans a variety of disciplines, starting with the synthesis of potential pharmacological compounds and moving on to investigations into how they interact with biological targets.
  • The goal of these studies is to get a thorough understanding of the drug’s therapeutic capabilities, as well as its metabolic functions and potential side effects.

Physical Chemistry

  • The field of chemistry encompasses the study of both macroscopic and physical phenomena within the universe.
  • The influence of physical properties on the chemical properties and structural characteristics of a substance is typically observed.
  • There is a significant overlap between Physical Chemistry and certain branches of Physics.
  • This field of study pertains to a sub-discipline within the scientific realm, focusing on the examination of macroscopic properties such as pressure and volume, as well as atomic properties including ionization energy, electronegativity, and valency.
  • Additionally, it encompasses the study of the composition and dynamics of matter and energy.

In the field of physical chemistry, several important domains emerge, encompassing but not limited to the following:

Thermo Chemistry

  • Thermochemistry constitutes a particular subfield encompassed by the broader domain of thermodynamics, which pertains to the examination of heat transfer and energy conversions.
  • For instance, when the human body undergoes the process of metabolizing sugars and fats, it generates energy.
  • The primary focus of this study is to investigate the thermal transfers occurring within chemical systems and to establish their relationship with mechanical energy.
  • Thermochemistry refers to the study of heat in relation to chemical reactions.
  • Food chemistry is a specialized field within the realm of chemistry that frequently involves the study of thermochemistry.

Photochemistry

  • Photochemistry is a scientific discipline that focuses on the investigation of chemical reactions occurring in the presence of light.
  • Photochemistry is a scientific discipline that specifically investigates chemical reactions that are triggered by specific ranges of electromagnetic radiation wavelengths.
  • The ranges mentioned encompass ultraviolet light (100-400 nm), visible light (400-750 nm), and infrared radiation (750-2500 nm).
  • The impact of photochemistry is contingent upon the wavelength of the light employed. 
  • Because of its higher energy levels, short-wavelength UV light is used more frequently and causes more drastic reactions.

Spectroscopy

  • Electromagnetic radiations and their interactions with atoms and molecules are the subject of spectroscopy.
  • Spectroscopy involves the thorough examination of the complex interactions of fundamental particles, including protons, electrons, and ions.
  • It can be utilized to study particle interactions and their dependence on collision energy for functional analysis.
  • Spectroscopic analysis plays a crucial role in the fields of quantum mechanics, the theory of relativity, and quantum electrodynamics.

Chemical Kinetics

  • Chemical kinetics is a scientific discipline that focuses on the investigation and analysis of the rates at which chemical reactions occur.
  • The scope of this inquiry encompasses the examination of various factors that exert influence on the rate of a chemical reaction, the comprehension of reaction mechanisms and transitional states, as well as the development of mathematical frameworks to anticipate and elucidate the behavior of a chemical reaction.
  • The temporal dimension of chemical reactions is often quantified by the rate, which is typically expressed in units of seconds to the power of negative one (sec-1). 
  • Nonetheless, it is worth noting that investigations in kinetics encompass a wide range of time intervals, extending from mere minutes to hours, and in some cases, even days.

Statistical Mechanics

  • The area of statistical mechanics is dedicated to the systematic examination of ensembles comprising a significant number of atoms and molecules.
  • In this particular situation, statistical tools are employed to examine and comprehend the behavior and characteristics of these ensembles.
  • Statistical mechanics is a multidisciplinary field that serves as a nexus between the realms of physics and chemistry, facilitating a seamless integration of these two domains.

Surface Chemistry

  • Surface chemistry is a prominent and esteemed field of scientific inquiry that centers on the thorough examination and comprehension of chemical phenomena occurring at the interfaces between distinct materials.
  • The subject of inquiry pertains to the analysis of chemical phenomena occurring at the interface of two disparate surfaces, encompassing a range of combinations including solid-liquid, solid-gas, solid-vacuum, and liquid-gas, among other possibilities.
  • Surface chemistry is a multifaceted discipline that encompasses a diverse array of applications, commonly referred to as surface engineering.

Electro Chemistry

  • Electrochemistry, situated within the domain of physical chemistry, explores the complex dynamics of chemical transformations that occur via electron transfer between electrodes.
  • It is a comprehensive investigation of the intricate interplay between electricity and chemical reactions.
  • In the field of electrochemistry, the process of electricity production occurs through the complex interaction of electrons, as they move between different chemical species, resulting in a reaction known as redox or oxidation-reduction.

Quantum Chemistry

  • Quantum chemistry is the application of quantum mechanics ideas and approaches to the study of chemical systems.
  • Quantum mechanics distinguishes itself from preceding models of matter through the presence of two distinct characteristics. One fundamental concept is wave-particle duality, which posits that objects at the quantum level, such as electrons, exhibit properties of both particles and waves.
  • In order to achieve a thorough comprehension of matter at its most fundamental state, it is crucial to utilize quantum mechanical models and approaches.
  • Furthermore, quantum mechanical theories accurately predict that the energy levels of atoms and molecules are inherently discrete, implying that they can possess only distinct quantities of energy.
  • Quantum chemical theories provide a comprehensive framework for elucidating the arrangement of elements in the periodic table. Additionally, quantum chemical computations provide precise forecasts of molecular structures as well as the spectroscopic characteristics shown by atoms and molecules.

Femto Chemistry

  • Femtochemistry refers to the scientific investigation of chemical reactions occurring on the femtosecond timescale, which corresponds to 10-15 seconds.
  • Studying the individual movements of molecules aids in our comprehension of their behavior.
  • The application of femtochemistry in the field of biological research has emerged as a crucial tool for elucidating the complex conformational dynamics displayed by stem-loop RNA structures.

Analytical Chemistry

  • Analytical chemistry, as a distinct discipline within the broader field of chemistry, is devoted to the comprehensive investigation and application of qualitative and quantitative methodologies for the purpose of analyzing diverse material properties. In essence, this pertains to the meticulous scrutiny and assessment of chemical substances.
  • The extensive implementation of this technology within the chemical industry is primarily driven by its ability to uphold and enhance the overall quality of the final product. The practical implementation of the analytical process encompasses three distinct stages, namely separation, identification, and quantification.
  • The process of separation involves the isolation of the different constituents present in a mixture, thereby allowing for their individual extraction. Upon successful isolation of the suitable sample, the constituents therein are subsequently identified through the process of qualitative analysis. Finally, the determination of analyte concentrations is accomplished through the utilization of quantitative analysis techniques.
  • Analytical Chemistry encompasses two fundamental methodologies, namely qualitative and quantitative approaches.
  • The qualitative method entails the discernment and characterization of chemical constituents, encompassing atoms, molecules, ions, and other such entities present within substances.
  • The quantitative methodology is employed to ascertain the precise concentration of a particular substance within a designated sample.
  • The advancement of science and technology has facilitated the development of a diverse range of instruments, thereby enhancing their capacity to deliver heightened levels of accuracy and precision.

Bio-Chemistry

  • Biochemistry is a scientific discipline that focuses on the comprehensive investigation of chemical processes occurring within biological systems.
  • The discipline of biochemistry, in comparison to its aforementioned counterparts within the realm of chemistry, is a relatively nascent field. Individuals engaged in the field of Chemistry specializing in the study of biological processes and substances are commonly referred to as biochemists.
  • The field of biochemistry is primarily concerned with the application of chemical principles to gain a deeper comprehension of various biological processes, including but not limited to respiration, digestion, and cellular metabolism.
  • Biochemists are actively engaged in the investigation of various diseases, such as cancer, with the aim of advancing treatment modalities. Additionally, they dedicate their efforts to the exploration of molecular genetics, seeking to enhance our understanding of genetic mechanisms and ultimately optimize gene function.

The field of Biochemistry encompasses several key areas of study that are of utmost significance. These areas include, but are not limited to:

Molecular Genetics

The field of molecular genetics encompasses the comprehensive investigation of genetic elements. The subject matter at hand exhibits a close correlation with the field of genetic engineering.

Agricultural Biochemistry

The field of agricultural biochemistry is dedicated to the application of biochemical principles and techniques in order to enhance agricultural productivity.

Molecular biochemistry

It encompasses the comprehensive investigation of macromolecules, including but not limited to proteins, membranes, enzymes, nucleic acids, amino acids, and viruses.

Clinical biochemistry

It is a specialized field of study that focuses on the examination and analysis of diseases and their associated topics.

Immunochemistry

It is a subfield of biochemistry, that encompasses the study of chemical reactions intricately linked to the functioning of the immune system.

Other Branches of Chemistry

Chemistry surpasses the aforementioned five branches, encompassing a multitude of specialized subdisciplines that have emerged and evolved over the course of its development.

Geo-Chemistry

It is the investigation of chemical processes within the geological setting. Geochemists examine processes such as mining, oil extraction, the formation of rocks, and the production of petroleum.

Food Chemistry

Food Chemistry researches the different biological components that make-up food. Any biological system’s primary building blocks are proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates. Food chemists improve the nutritional value of food. Food quality can be raised by lengthening its shelf life, storing it properly, and retaining sensory qualities like flavor, color, and aroma.

Astro-Chemistry

The study at hand pertains to the examination and analysis of chemical processes that transpire within the vast expanse of space. Astronomy and astrochemistry are intricately intertwined disciplines, sharing a profound connection.

Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineers focus on product innovation and industrial applications. They process chemicals, solve difficulties, and sustain output in industries. Fieldwork dominates. They also design better chemical production technologies. They mostly develop novel materials in labs.

Forensic Chemistry

Forensic Chemistry is a field that applies the principles and techniques of Analytical Chemistry. Forensic analysis entails utilizing analytical methods to examine different samples in order to identify individuals involved in criminal activities. Forensic chemists primarily work in laboratories and are primarily employed by government agencies.

Nuclear Chemistry

This branch of chemistry focuses on the examination of atomic-level reactions, such as fission and fusion. Nuclear scientists are involved in the development of both nuclear bombs and nuclear power. One of the major accomplishments of nuclear scientists is the successful conversion of nuclear power into electricity.

Neuro Chemistry

Neurochemistry, also known as the study of neurochemicals, focuses on the examination of chemicals related to the nervous system. Neurochemicals such as glutamate, glycine, dopamine, norepinephrine, adenosine, and histamine are examples of important substances in the brain.

Cosmo Chemistry

Cosmochemistry is the scientific discipline that focuses on investigating the chemical composition of matter throughout the universe.

Atmospheric Chemistry

The main focus is to understand the intricate chemical processes occurring in a planet’s atmosphere. Understanding climate change is of utmost importance.

Phyto Chemistry

It is closely related to the field of botany. Phytochemistry is the field of study that focuses on the analysis and investigation of chemicals derived from plants, known as phytochemicals.

Ocean Chemistry

Marine Chemistry, alternatively referred to as the field of Oceanic Chemistry, encompasses the scientific investigation of chemical processes occurring within the vast expanse of our planet’s oceans.

Petro Chemistry

Petroleum chemistry is the name given to the branch of chemistry that studies crude oil, petroleum, and natural gas as well as how they are processed and refined afterward. Due to its crucial role in supplying our energy needs through the usage of end-use crude oil derivatives like gasoline, diesel, and LPG, the discipline of petrochemistry is extremely important.

Mathematical Chemistry

It uses mathematics to simulate different chemical reactions. It is a synthesis of chemistry and mathematics.

Mechano Chemistry

Mechanochemistry is a scientific discipline that involves the induction of chemical reactions through the application of mechanical energy to molecular systems. The field in question is currently in its nascent stages of development. The field in question represents a fusion of principles from both the domains of chemistry and mechanical engineering.

Radio Chemistry

The present field of study revolves around the examination and analysis of conventional chemical reactions through the utilization of radioactive substances.

Sono Chemistry

Ultrasonic chemistry is a scientific discipline that centers around the investigation of the impact of ultrasonic waves, characterized as high-frequency sound, on chemical systems.

Supramolecular Chemistry

This field of study encompasses the examination of intermolecular forces that arise from non-covalent bonds, such as Van der Waals forces, hydrogen bonds, metal coordination, and other related interactions.

Industrial Chemistry

It is the study of how raw materials are transformed into finished goods in industrial settings. It sits in the middle of industrial-scale manufacturing and laboratory-based research. Chemical engineers and industrial chemists are related professions. A process’s chemistry is more the focus of an industrial chemist. While a chemical engineer is more focused on efficiently scaling up the process.

Environmental Chemistry

The study of chemical interactions in the air, soil, and water environments is referred to as environmental chemistry. Environmental chemists use their chemistry expertise to comprehend the environment.

Green Chemistry

Green chemistry tries to lower the amount of harmful chemicals in the environment by making chemical processes better and finding other ways to do things. It is also called Sustainable Chemistry, not to be confused with Environmental Chemistry.

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References

  • https://www.aatbio.com/resources/faq-frequently-asked-questions/what-are-the-branches-of-chemistry-and-their-definition
  • https://byjus.com/chemistry/
  • https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/branches-of-chemistry
  • https://www.acs.org/careers/chemical-sciences/areas.html
  • https://www.expii.com/t/branches-of-chemistry-examples-overview-11023

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Jyoti Bashyal

Jyoti Bashyal, a graduate of the Central Department of Chemistry, is an avid explorer of the molecular realm. Fueled by her fascination with chemical reactions and natural compounds, she navigates her field's complexities with precision and passion. Outside the lab, Jyoti is dedicated to making science accessible to all. She aspires to deepen audiences' understanding of the wonders of various scientific subjects and their impact on the world by sharing them with a wide range of readers through her writing.

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