Teaching Laboratory in Electroanalytical Chemistry and Advanced Electrochemistry
Much of our daily life is dependent on chemical analysis. Accurate quality-control analysis ensures the quality of the food we eat, the medicine we use, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. Among the sciences, analytical chemistry stands out as a practically versatile, useful and important field.
Analytical chemistry is comprised of qualitative and quantitative analysis. Qualitative analysis deals with finding out which substances are in analytical sample and quantitative analysis determines how much of each substance is in the sample. Analytical chemistry analysis has many applications in industry, medicine, biochemistry, physiology, geology, oceanography, and environmental science. In addition, analytical chemistry teaches special skills and techniques which have relevance for physicians, engineers, and many other professionals.
During the past few years, the need for skilled analytical chemistry in Israeli’s industrial sector has increased. Consequently, the study of analytical chemistry has grown in popularity. Tel Aviv University has responded by accommodating more chemistry students and improving the quality of chemistry studies.
The laboratory in Electroanalytical Chemistry and Advanced Electrochemistry is one of the most popular chemistry laboratories. In the laboratory, the students study the basics of electroanalytical methods, and practice detecting minute amounts of substances in water, medicine and food. Graduate students and faculty research teams use the laboratory to develop new tests and automated procedures for analysis that are currently performed manually. In addition, TAU researchers work in the laboratory, in conjunction with researchers from Technion - Israel Institute of Technology - to test experimental methods and new instruments in electroanalytical chemistry.
As little as ten years ago, many tasks in analytical chemistry required hours of painstaking work, many complex mathematical calculations and various measuring instruments. In today’s analytical chemistry – as in so many other fields – computers and other sophisticated instruments have simplified tasks and expanded possibilities. An impressive array of powerful and elegant tools for obtaining analytical (qualitative and quantitative) information about the comparison of the matter, are available. Students of chemistry must understand and appreciate these tools in order to make an intelligent choice among the many possible ways of solving an analytical problem. Deep understanding of the principles upon which the method are based, is required in order to ensure proper use and a learned evaluation of the experimental findings.
The aim of the laboratory course is to expose the students to advanced analytical methods. The experiments illustrate not only analytical applications, but whenever possible, physico-chemical parameters are also determined. This latter feature helps to ensure that the students acquire knowledge of the chemical principles involved in the measurements and an understanding in selecting the most appropriate conditions for analysis.
The experiments have been selected to demonstrate the basic principles of the instrumental methods and to give the students a sound grasp of the general applicability of methods to different types of chemical problems. Experiments in trace analysis in real systems (for example, determination of lead and cadmium in drinking water) are performed.
The students are using the advanced peripheral instrumentation: air-displacement pipettes, dispensers, piston burettes, peristaltic and metering pumps, which replace glass pipettes and burettes. Flow experiments replace classical batch experiments. The rinsing of the cells is carried out with small aquarium pumps (a step that saves a great deal of time and has increased student output by about 30%). Miniaturization of cells demonstrates to the students the possibility of economizing in samples and reagents.
The electrochemical experiments at the student laboratory have a common denominator – analysis in drinking water, using samples acquired from all around the country. This exposes the students to ecological problems, to interferences encountered in practical problems and to the need to choose methods according to the type of species tested and their concentrations. Whenever possible, more than one method is used for a particular analyte.
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