Analytical Chemistry is the branch of science that is concerned with (experimentally) determining the identities, concentrations, interactions and locations of chemical constituents of natural and man-made compounds.
The goals include a better understanding of the chemical structure of molecules, the ways in which different types of molecules interact, the morphology of solids and surfaces, and the nature of complex mixtures. Advanced spectroscopic and separation techniques and data analysis ('chemometrics') play an important role in this field. Analytical Chemistry has applications in many fields, such as forensic science, life science, environmental science, and materials characterization.
The Analytical Chemistry Group of the University of Amsterdam focuses on the study of macromolecules and complex mixtures and the application of analytical chemistry to forensic science.
Specifically, it aims to advance science by creating novel or greatly improved possibilities for performing analytical measurements in general and analytical separations in particular. In order to achieve these aims advanced techniques will be utilised and developed, such as one- and two-dimensional separation techniques, electro-migration techniques and field-flow fractionation. A variety of general and more-specific detectors will be explored. Developments in mass spectrometry and two-dimensional liquid-chromatographic separations are expected to generate novel insights in the structure and function of proteins, peptides, starch, natural surfactants and drug excipients. New areas to include in the research programme are advanced chip-based separation systems based on nanotechnology.
The application of analytical chemistry expertise to the field of forensic science presents various interesting challenges and opportunities.
This concerns both the scope and quality of criminal investigations and the resulting forensic evidence presented in court cases. A number of such applications have already been explored, including the analysis of single human hairs (drugs), ink (cheque fraud), flame accelerants (arson) and excipients in (illicit) drugs. Quite promising is the possibility to use analytical separations for the detection and characterization of explosives. Further interesting research questions concern the interpretation of analytical data in a forensic context. Examples of significant issues involve the reliability of identification, noise reduction, and classification uncertainty. Efforts in this direction will yield tools that are generally applicable in the chemometrics discipline.