Research Fields Glossary

Learn more about the different types of chemistry and the fields our students and faculty engage with every day.

Analytical Chemistry is the subdivision of chemistry dealing with the qualitative and quantitative determination of chemical components of substances.

Bioanalytical Chemistry is the discipline which involves the development and application of chemical measurements and instrumentation to problems in biology.

Bioinorganic Chemistry is the application of the principles of inorganic chemistry to problems of biology and biochemistry.

Bioorganic Chemistry is a chemistry discipline which integrates biochemistry and organic chemistry and involves the study of biological processes using chemical methods.

Biophysical Chemistry is an interdisciplinary science that uses the methods of physical chemistry to study biological systems.

Catalysis is a branch of chemistry which involves the study of the acceleration of the rate of a chemical reaction by means of a substance, called a catalyst that is itself unchanged chemically by the overall reaction. Catalysis is a very important process from an industrial point of view since the production of most industrially important chemicals involve catalysis. Research into catalysis is a major field in applied science, and involves many fields of chemistry and physics.

Chemical Biology is a scientific discipline spanning the fields of chemistry and biology that involves the application of chemical techniques and tools, often compounds produced through synthetic chemistry, to the study and manipulation of biological systems.

Energy Related Chemistry refers to branches of chemistry that study alternate forms of energy such as solar, wind or hydrothermal energy.

Environmental Chemistry is the scientific study of the chemical and biochemical phenomena that occur in natural places.

Inorganic Chemistry is the study of the properties and reactions of all chemical elements and compounds other than hydrocarbons or their derivatives.

Materials Chemistry is an interdisciplinary field involving the properties of solid matter and its applications to various areas of science and engineering.

Medicinal Chemistry or Pharmaceutical Chemistry is a discipline at the intersection of chemistry and pharmacology involved with designing, synthesizing and developing pharmaceutical drugs.

Nanoscience or Nanotechnology, shortened to “nanotech”, is the study of the controlling of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally nanotechnology deals with structures of the size 100 nanometers or smaller in at least one dimension, and involves developing materials or devices within that size.

Organic Chemistry is a sub discipline within chemistry involving the scientific study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation (by synthesis or by other means) of carbon-based compounds, hydrocarbons, and their derivatives. These compounds may contain any number of other elements, including hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, the halogens as well as phosphorus, silicon and sulfur. [1][2][3]

[1] Robert T. Morrison, Robert N. Boyd, and Robert K. Boyd, Organic Chemistry, 6th edition (Benjamin Cummings, 1992, ISBN 0-13-643669-2) - this is “Morrison and Boyd”, a classic textbook
[2] John D. Roberts, Marjorie C. Caserio, Basic Principles of Organic Chemistry,(W. A. Benjamin, Inc. ,1964) - another classic textbook
[3] Richard F. and Sally J. Daley, Organic Chemistry, Online organic chemistry textbook.

Organometallic Chemistry is the study of chemical compounds containing bonds between carbon and a metal.

Polymer Chemistry or Macromolecular Chemistry is a multidisciplinary science that deals with the chemical synthesis and chemical properties of polymers or macromolecules.

Solid-state Chemistry is the study of the synthesis, structure, and properties of solid phase materials, particularly, but not necessarily exclusively of, non-molecular solids.

Synthetic Organic Chemistry is the study of the design and construction of organic compounds through laboratory methods.

Theoretical Chemistry is the use of non-experimental reasoning to explain or predict chemical phenomena.

X-Ray Crystallography is a study which involves a technique in which the patterns formed by the diffraction of X-rays on passing through a crystalline substance yield information on the lattice structure of the crystal, and the molecular structure of the substance.