Career in Chemistry

Chemistry is the scientific study of substances. Chemists investigate the properties (characteristics) of the substances and study how these behave under different conditions. They attempt to explain the behaviour of a substance in terms of its structure and composition and find ways to make chemicals useful to us.

Have you ever wondered why iron rusts. This is due to a chemical reaction that occurs when oxygen from the air reacts with iron. Chemical changes are constantly taking place in nature, making life on earth possible. For example, during a thunderstorm, lightning causes a chemical change in the air. Chemical changes also occur as wood burns to give ash and gases. The food we eat also goes through many chemical changes in our bodies.

Nature of Work:
Chemists study substances according to questions they want to answer. These could be:

Studying special groups of substances, like Compounds.

Specializing in techniques that enable analysis of any substance and identify the elements and compounds it consists.

Studying the forces involved in chemical changes. Much chemical research deals with the atomic and molecular structures of substances. Predicting chemical behaviour from theories about the forces at work within the atom. Creating new substances, and making synthetic forms of rare but useful natural materials. This field of work is called Synthetic Chemistry. Finding ways of using substances and chemical processes in agriculture, industry, medicine and other fields. Chemists try to improve things that people use daily, such as paint, medicine and cosmetics. Chemists can be employed in the chemical manufacturing industry that produces plastics and synthetic materials, drugs, soaps and cleaners, paints, industrial organic chemicals and other chemical products. In addition, there are many chemists who also teach in colleges and universities.

Tools and Techniques Specialized instruments and computers help chemists make accurate measurements. For example, a device called Mass Spectrometer enables chemists to determine the mass and atomic composition of molecules. Chemists can identify how atoms are arranged in molecules by using instruments that measure the radiation absorbed and given off by the molecules. A technique called Chromatography enables chemists to separate the various parts of a complicated mixtures, and detect and measure low concentrations of substances like pollutants in air and water.

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