What is Chemistry?
Chemistry is that branch of science which deals with the study of composition, structure and properties of matter. It deals with the study of the changes which different forms of matter undergo under different conditions.
Chemistry also had branches that look at the laws governing these changes. Now that we know what chemistry is let's have a look at it’s various branches and their importance.
Branches of Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry: Organic chemistry is the study of the structure , properties, composition, reactions and preparation of Carbon containing compounds. These compounds called ”Hydrocarbons” contain carbon along with Hydrogen and may also include elements like oxygen, halogens, sulphur, nitrogen and phosphorus.
- Inorganic Chemistry: This branch of chemistry deals with the study of compounds of all other elements except carbon, which include metals(other than carbon), minerals and organometallic compounds.
- Physical Chemistry: The explanation of fundamental principles governing various chemical phenomena is the main concern of this branch. It deals with the principles of physics involved in chemical interactions.
- Industrial Chemistry: The chemistry involved in industrial processes is studied under this branch.
- Analytical Chemistry: This branch deals with the qualitative and quantitative analysis of matter. It deals with obtaining, processing and communicating information about the composition and structure of matter.
- Biochemistry: This branch deals with the study of chemical processes occuring in living matter.
Try yourself:Hair contains keratin proteins which are also present in nails and wool is an example of
Biochemistry deals with the chemical processes within and related to living organisms. So, the chemical keratin, of which hair, nails and wool are made up of, comes under this branch of chemistry (science).
Importance & Scope of Chemistry
Importance of Chemistry
There are many instances in your day-to-day life that involve chemistry, its applications and its principles. Let us look at them one by one.
1. Chemistry in Supply of Food
- The chemistry study provided the world with chemical fertilizers such as urea, calcium superphosphate, sodium nitrate, and ammonium sulphate. These chemicals have helped greatly in increasing the yield of fruits, vegetables and other crops. Thus, we can cater to the ever-growing demand for food.
- It has helped protect the crops from insects and harmful bacteria by using certain effective insecticides, fungicides, and pesticides.
- Chemistry also led to the discovery of preservatives. These chemicals have greatly helped to preserve food products for a longer period. It has given methods to test the presence of adulterants. This ensures the supply of pure foodstuff which further enhances the quality of life.
2. Chemistry's Contribution in Improved Health & Sanitation
- Chemistry provided humanity with a large number of life-saving drugs. We could find a cure for dysentery and pneumonia due to the discovery of sulphur drugs and penicillin.
- Besides this, life-saving drugs like cisplatin and taxol are effective for cancer therapy, and AZT (Azidothymidine) is used for people with AIDS.
- Some of the common drugs that chemistry has blessed us with include:
(i) Analgesics: To reduce the pain of different types.
(ii) Antibiotics: To curb infection and cure diseases.
(iii) Tranquillizers: To reduce stress and bring about calm and peace to patients suffering from mental diseases.
(iv) Antiseptics: To stop infection of the wounds.
(v) Disinfectants: To kill the microorganism present in toilets, floors and drains.
(vi) Anesthetics: Discovery of anesthetics has made surgical operations more successful and less painful.
(vii) The use of insecticides such as DDT and Gammexane has greatly reduced the dangers of diseases caused by rats, mosquitoes and flies.
Try yourself:Patients suffering from AIDS can be helped using which of the following drugs?
- The drug AZT is used for preventing or treating AIDS, while cisplatin & taxol are for cancer and codeine is a sort of painkiller.
- The drug AZT is also known as Zidovudine. This drug AZT is an antiretroviral drug. It’s used along with other drugs as a combination.
3. Scope of Chemistry in Saving the Environment
Thanks to the advancement in the field of chemistry now we have environment-friendly chemicals that help us conserve nature. One such example is the replacement of CFCs ( Chlorofluorocarbons) in refrigerators which contributed to the destruction of the stratospheric ozone.
4. Chemistry increasing Comfort, Pleasure & Luxuries
Because of the advancements in science and chemistry discoveries, we lead a more comfortable life today. You may ask how? Let us see below.
- Synthetic Fibers: These are more attractive, comfortable and durable. They include terylene, nylon and rayon. They are easy to wash, dry quickly and do not need ironing. Chemistry provides a large number of synthetic dyes which imparts bright and fast color to clothes.
Types of synthetic fibers
- Building Materials: By supplying steel and cement, chemistry helps construct safer homes and multi-storage buildings. It also helps in the construction of long-lasting and durable dams and bridges.
- Supply of Metals: Metals like gold, silver, copper, iron, aluminum, zinc and a large number of alloys are used for making various objects. These include ornaments, utensils, coins and many industrial and agricultural implements.
- Articles of domestic use: Chemistry has made our homes more comfortable by supplying many articles on domestic uses.
Example: It includes detergents, oils and fats, sugar, paper, glass, plastic, paints, cosmetics, perfumes, cooking gas etc. We can beat the heat in summers by using refrigerants like ammonia, liquid sulphur dioxide and freon.
Articles of Domestic use
- Entertainment: Cinema, video cameras, simple cameras make use of films made of Celluloid and coated with suitable chemicals. Fireworks which amuse us at festivals and marriages are chemical products. Can you imagine how boring life would have been if you wouldn’t have been able to take all those cute selfies? Also, much before we had smartphones in our hands, we used film cameras which made use of silver bromide( a chemical) for developing a photo from its photographic film. Interesting isn't it?
5. Chemistry in Transport and Communication
All the different means of transportation including cars, aircrafts, trains, are powered by products of fractional distillation of crude oil. Fractional distillation is a process which makes use of applications of chemistry to break different hydrocarbons into fractions at different boiling points.
6. Chemistry creating Nuclear Atomic Energy
- Given the current scenario , when the exhaustible natural resources like coal and petroleum need to be saved, Chemistry has come to the rescue by providing an alternative source of energy which is nuclear energy. .
Nuclear Fission (Left); Nuclear Fusion (Right)
7. Scope of Chemistry in Industries
- Chemistry plays an important and useful role in the development and growth of several industries. This includes industries like glass, cement, paper, textile, leather, dye etc.
- We also see huge chemistry applications in industries like paints, pigments, petroleum, sugar, plastics, Pharmaceuticals. It has also helped increase sulphuric acid, nitric acid and Ammonia, hydrogenated oils by providing suitable catalysts.
8. Scope of Chemistry in War
- Chemical warfare is the use of toxic properties of chemical substances to kill, injure and incapacitate the enemy in war.
- Chemistry plays an important role in discovering highly explosive substances such as TNT, nitroglycerine and dynamite.
- Cities of Hiroshima and nagasaki experienced the biggest atomic bombings in world war 2 killing lakhs of poeple
Destruction caused by Atom Bomb
9. Chemistry of Cosmetics in Everyday life
Cosmetics contain the following categories of chemicals.
- Talc: The chemical formulation in talc is hydrated magnesium silicate. Talk is a major ingredient in face powders, concealers etc.
- Alcohol: Alcohols are major ingredients in perfumes.
- Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a very common component in many cosmetic items such as nail paint remover, shampoos, conditioners, shower gels, creams, toothpastes etc.
- Emulsifier: These increase the stability of the emulsion. For example, Potassium cetyl sulfate.
- Preservatives: These are added to cosmetics to increase their shelf life—for example, benzyl alcohol, salicylic acid.
- Thickeners: These give an appealing consistency. For example, Cetyl alcohol, Stearic acid.
- Emollient: These soften the skin by preventing water loss. For example, Glycerine, zinc oxide.
- Glimmer and Shiners: For example, mica, bismuth oxychloride.
Try yourself:What is the full form of TNT
Trinitrotoluene (TNT), a pale yellow, solid organic nitrogen compound used chiefly as an explosive, prepared by stepwise nitration of toluene.
10. Other Examples of Chemistry in Everyday Life
- The Expiration Date on Bottled Drinking Water:
Have you ever wondered why there is an expiration date on a bottle of drinking water? After all, it is just water, isn’t it? Well, most of us haven’t even noticed that there is, in fact, an expiration date on that bottle. The idea behind instilling an expiration on bottled drinking water is to standardize the packaging quality. The actual expiration date signifies if the expiration date is up, the taste of the water will be different as there is a chance of the chemicals in the packaging material ruining the quality of water.
- Elements in the Human Body:
We all know our body is about 60% water, but what composes its rest? Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen and Oxygen. These elements compose 96% of the human body. At the same time, the rest, 4%, is composed of about 60 elements. Some of these elements include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and sulphur.
- Sunblock and Sunscreen:
There are two kinds of rays from the sun which are particularly bad for us, UV-A & UV-B. Sunscreen’s action is, as the name, suggests it functions as a screen and offers protection from sunburns which is caused by UV-B. At the same time, sunblock has more of reflective nature and blocks both UV-A & UV-B radiations.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the main branches of chemistry?
2. What is the importance of organic chemistry?
Chemistry is the science of matter properties. All matter is composed of atoms and molecules. There are 5 main branches of chemistry:
- Organic chemistry
- Inorganic chemistry
- Physical chemistry
- Analytical chemistry
Organic chemistry is simply the study of carbon and its compounds mainly with hydrogen . oxygen, sulphur, nitrogen and halogens. Organic chemistry initially involveds the study of compounds that could only be obtained from living organisms. Hence the word “ORGANIC” Approximately 7 million different organic compounds are known present, while there are only 1.5 million known inorganic compounds. This large number of organic compounds arise from the unique property of carbon called catenation, which means self linking..3. List down some problems caused by Chemistry.
Problems caused by Chemistry are as follows:
Nuclear energy is useful, but the disposal of nuclear waste poses a serious problem to humanity. Also, nuclear disasters are a constant threat to humanity.
Phonograph records have added to our pleasure for listening to music, but they are made of polyvinyl chloride. This is produced from vinyl chloride, which can cause liver cancer in industrial workers.
Pharmaceutical drugs have helped in eliminating infectious diseases, but it’s overuse can be very harmful. Advancement in Chemistry has given drugs like LSD, cocaine, methamphetamine. These prove to be a curse to society.