When an element is analyzed for its elemental properties it is known as Elemental Analysis. This is a process which uses a sample of material, and this sample is analyzed for its elemental and quite often its isotopic composition.
By using this process, the elements which are present can be determined; this is known as ‘qualitive’, and the process can also determine how much of each element is present and this is known as ‘quantitive’.
This is a part of analytical chemistry, and this means the set of instruments involved in deciphering the worlds chemical nature.
Organic chemists use elemental analysis, and for them this generally refers to CHNX analysis. CHNX analysis refers to determination of the percentage weights of;
This type of information is very important and helps to determine the structures of compounds, and also to find out the purity and structure of a synthesized compound.
As mentioned before, ‘quantitive’ analysis is the determination of the quantity of each element present and some of the quantitive methods which are employed may be;
• Optical atomic spectroscopy (flame atomic absorption & graphite furnace atomic absorption).
• Gravimetry. ( a sample is dissolved and the element is precipitated )
Methods for Qualitative analysis can include;
• Sodium fusion test
• Mass spectrometric atomic spectroscopy
• Particle-induced-X-ray emission
• X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy
The results of any analysis is carried out by determining the ratio of elements that are found in the sample, and then working out a chemical formula that fits with those results. Elemental analysis is extremely useful for determining the purity of a desired compound from within a sample.
Analyzing results can be very long and tedious and different tools have been specifically designed to carry out some processes, such as the Solvent Correction CHN Calculator, and the Chemical Composition Calculator.