Modern analysis of chemical species is carried out mainly through the use of instrumentation. Spectrometers measure radiant power or absorbance, chromatographs separate complex mixtures of chemical species, and electrochemical apparatuses measure current, potential, or charge as a function of chemical concentration. These instruments are composed of specialized hardware, optics, and electronics, and the computers that control their instruments. The objective of instrumental analysis laboratory is to gain hands-on experience of analytical instrumentation.
Students reinforce their understanding of optics by tracing the beam path from source to detector in an open spectrometer. Samples are prepared by procedures accepted in chemically-related job settings, data are collected and then the data are compiled and organized in carefully written reports. Instrumental design and operation are illustrated using a UV-visible spectrophotometer, atomic absorption spectrophotometer, fluorescence spectrometer, gas chromatograph, high performance liquid chromatograph, and an electrochemical analyzer.