Chemistry is generally divided into two broad branches: organic
chemistry and inorganic chemistry. Other types of chemistry
include physical chemistry, biochemistry, and analytical
chemistry, with each field branching off into several specific
subfields. Here’s a brief description of the most common
branches of chemistry.
Organic Chemistry has to do with the study of compounds that
contain carbon (and sometimes hydrogen). Even though carbon is
only the fourteenth most common element on the planet, it
produces the greatest number of different compounds on Earth.
Not surprisingly then, much of the study of chemistry involves
The most studied groups of organic compounds are those that
contain nitrogen. These organic compounds are important because
they are often linked to the amino group. When the amino group
combines with the carboxyl group, amino acids are born. Amino
acids are important because they are as the building blocks of
Inorganic chemistry involves the study the properties and
reactions of compounds that do not contain carbon and which are
not organic. Inorganic chemistry studies all non-living matter,
such as minerals found in the Earth’s crust. There are many
branches of inorganic chemistry, including geochemistry,
nuclear science, coordination chemistry, and bioinorganic
There is much overlap between organic and inorganic chemistry.
For instance, organometallic chemistry studies the use of
compounds that are capable of creating a covalent bond between
carbon and metal.
As its name implies, physical chemistry has to do with the
physical properties of materials. Physical properties that are
studied may include the electrical and magnetic behavior of
materials, as well as their interaction with electromagnetic
There are several subcategories of physical chemistry. These
include thermochemistry, electrochemistry, and chemical
kinetics. Thermochemistry studies the changes of entropy and
energy that naturally occur during chemical reactions.
Electrochemistry is concerned with the study of
interconversions of electric and chemical energy of matter, as
well as the effects of electricity on chemical changes.
Chemical kinetics involves the study of chemical reactions.
Specifically, chemical kinetics studies the equilibrium it
reached between products and their reactants.
Biochemistry is a branch of chemistry concerned with the
composition and changes of living matter. Biochemists commonly
focus on the physical properties and structures of biological
molecules. Common biological molecules include carbohydrates,
proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. Biochemistry is sometimes
referred to as physiological chemistry and biological
chemistry. Biophysics, molecular biology, and cell biology are
research fields closely related to biochemistry.
Unlike the other main types of chemistry, analytical chemistry
doesn’t deal specifically with specific elements. Analytical
chemistry is concerned mainly with the various techniques and
laboratory methods used to determine the composition of
materials. Qualitative and quantitative analysis are the two
most basic methods used in analytical chemistry. Qualitative
analysis has to do with identifying all the atoms and molecules
in a sample of matter, with attention paid to trace elements.
Quantitative analysis also involves determining the atomical
and molecular structure of matter, but includes also measuring
the exact weight of each chemical constituent.