Quantitative analysis (chemistry)

Quantitative analysis (chemistry)

In chemistry, quantitative analysis is the determination of the absolute or relative abundance (often expressed as a concentration) of one, several or all particular substance(s) present in a sample.

Once the presence of certain substance(s) in a sample is known, the study of their absolute or relative abundance can help in determining specific properties.

For example, quantitative analysis performed by mass spectrometry on biological samples can determine, by the relative abundance ratio of specific proteins, indications of certain diseases, like cancer.

Quantitative vs. Qualitative

The term "quantitative analysis" is often used in comparison (or contrast) with "qualitative analysis", which seeks information about the identity or form of substance present. For instance, a chemist might be given an unknown solid sample. He or she will use "qualitative" techniques (perhaps NMR or IR spectroscopy) to identify the compounds present, and then quantitative techniques to determine the amount of each compound in the sample. Careful procedures for recognizing the presence of different metal ions have been developed, although they have largely been replaced by modern instruments; these are collectively known as qualitative inorganic analysis. Similar tests for identifying organic compounds (by testing for different functional groups) are also known.

Many techniques can be used for either qualitative or quantitative measurements. For instance, suppose an indicator solution changes color in the presence of a metal ion. It could be used as a qualitative test: does the indicator solution change color when a drop of sample is added? It could also be used as a quantitative test, by studying the colour of the indicator solution with different concentrations of the metal ion. (This would probably be done using ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy.)

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