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In chemistry, the determination of the properties and composition of samples of materials; qualitative analysis establishes what is there, and quantitative analysis measures how much. A large body of systematic procedures (analytical chemistry) has evolved in close association with other branches of the physical sciences since their beginnings. A sample of a single compound may be analyzed to establish its elemental composition (seeelement, molecular weight) or molecular structure; many measurements use spectroscopy and spectrophotometry. A mixed sample is usually analyzed by separating, detecting, and identifying its components by methods that depend on differences in their properties (e.g., volatility, mobility in an electric or gravitational field, distribution between liquids that do not mix). The many types of chromatography are increasingly useful, particularly with biological and biochemical samples.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on analysis, visit Britannica.com.