Branches of Chemistry

Since chemistry is a thorough, molecular-level investigation of the matter present in our world and beyond, the breadth of the science is enormous. Therefore, as per tradition, chemistry is divided into several smaller areas that are distinct yet closely intertwined.

Analytical Chemistry


The science involving the separation and quantification of the chemical components of a mixture is often underestimated. For example, analytical chemists develop techniques used to determine the amount of mercury found in tuna, to separate the compounds found in gasoline, and to identify the existence of drugs in athletes’ urine samples.

Organic Chemistry


Carbon-based compounds are the basis of life on this planet, and organic chemistry is broadly defined as the study of carbon compounds. These chemists devise experimental methods to isolate or synthesize organic molecules and study their properties.

Inorganic Chemistry


Chemists in this field concentrate their efforts on the study all of the elements on the periodic table, with the exception of carbon.

One inorganic chemist may study the properties of a particular transition metal and its ability to catalyze organic reactions, while another may investigate the chemistry of phosphorus. Those who study the interaction of carbon compounds with metals are organometallic chemists.

Physical Chemistry


The properties of new materials, the influence of temperature on the rate of a chemical reaction, the interaction of molecules with radiation, and the reactivity of compounds under extreme conditions, to name a few, are studied by physical chemists.

Computational and Theoretical Chemistry


Chemists in this area conduct scientific experiments and investigate hypotheses not in a chemistry laboratory, but on high-powered computers that are able to simulate chemical reactions. This branch of chemistry is widespread in the search for crucial pharmaceutical drugs, and even home users could participate in various internet projects - Folding@Home.

Contact Us

Kay Calvin
Chair, Undergraduate Counselling

Department of Chemistry
Western Universtiy
Chemistry Building
1151 Richmond Street
London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5B7

P (519) 661-2166
F (519) 661-3022

Main Office Hours
Monday-Friday 8:30-4:30

Fields of Research

Chemical Biology

Synthesis and Catalysis

Energy and Mechanism


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