Analytical Chemistry

Analytical Chemistry RQ Thompson - ‎2000that begins with me...

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Chemical Education Today

Book & Media Reviews

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Edward J. Walsh Allegheny College Meadville, PA 16335

Analytical Chemistry edited by R. Kellner, J.- M. Mermet, M. Otto, and H. M. Widmer Wiley-VCH: Weinheim, 1998. 942 pp. 8.5 × 11.8 in. ISBN 3-527-28610-1. $89.95. reviewed by Robert Q. Thompson

This text, written in English, was developed by the Division of Analytical Chemistry of the Federation of European Chemical Societies to support the university-level Eurocurriculum in analytical chemistry, a major effort of academics and other analytical scientists throughout Europe and an outgrowth of the economic unification of European countries. The goal of a uniform curriculum and text for analytical chemistry across national borders is laudable, and the editors, led by the late Robert Kellner, deserve commendation for their accomplishments. (The U.S., in contrast, has been late in considering the analytical chemistry curriculum and only recently has published a pamphlet, Curricular Developments in the Analytical Sciences, an outgrowth of several NSFsponsored workshops.) I can’t remember another analytical text that begins with mention of the “big bang” and the beginnings of the universe (!), but I don’t believe that the authors and publisher are looking to export their curriculum to neighboring planets. However, I am sure that they are interested in the North American market and its strong analytical chemistry community. It is in this context and in comparison with leading analytical texts in the U.S. that I write this review. At first glance, Analytical Chemistry overwhelms. It is a large book of more than 900 pages, a mass of 2.3 kg, and a volume of nearly 3 L. It is not a book that is easy to stuff into a backpack for the trip to class or lab. Students also may resent paying top dollar for a book that might not last the semester, given that the pages of my review copy began to pull away from the binding after only a few days of gentle use. Beneath the snazzy cover there is a dearth of color printing and photographs. This, combined with a smallish font and figures that are inconsistent in size, quality, and font, makes for a book that is not especially easy on the eyes. The large margins provide ample space for the numerous figures, figure captions, and marginal notes. The text is divided into 5 parts (General Topics, Chemical Analysis, Physical Analysis, Computer-Based Analytical Chemistry, and Total Analysis Systems), 16 sections, and many chapters and subsections, all numbered and with headings for easy reference. The book provides comprehensive coverage of analytical science. Many curricula in North America cling to the tired notion of one semester of classical analytical (wet) chemistry followed by a second semester of instrumental analysis, and publishers continue to respond by publishing separate texts for each course. The Europeans, in contrast, have a text that bridges this artificial gap. Included are chapters and subsections on chemical equilibrium, electronic

and vibrational spectroscopy, separations, and electrochemistry (found in most first courses in analytical chemistry). The authors also address atomic spectroscopy in all of its forms, luminescence, mass spectrometry, NMR spectrometry, surface analysis, thermal methods, activation analysis, and automated methods of analysis (found in most instrumental courses). Additional, uncommon chapters on chemical and biochemical sensors, immunoassay, chemometrics, miniaturized systems, and process analytical chemistry point toward the present and future of analytical science. The only glaring omission in comparison to other instrumental texts is in the area of measurement systems and electronics. No mention is made of the analytical laboratory, such as descriptions of glassware calibration and suggested experiments, as is found in most quantitative analysis texts in the U.S. The dangers in any multi-authored book include an uneven treatment of topics and a lack of cohesiveness and logical development of topics. I found some evidence of these problems in Analytical Chemistry. My first reaction to the Table of Contents and the grouping of chapters was “Where is …?” and “What about …?” While the order of topics in an analytical chemistry course always is open to debate (I have done my share of reshuffling over the years), some timing is sacrosanct. For example, I suspect that most first courses in analytical chemistry include basic statistics early on, yet this topic is found under Chemometrics in Part IV. Another example is the separation of the discussions of acid–base equilibria (Chapter 4) and acid–base titrations (Chapter 7), with chromatography and kinetics interspersed. Simple UV–vis spectrometry and Beer’s law are discussed after topics such as thermal analysis and biosensors. Information on monochromators is buried in the chapter on atomic emission spectroscopy. The editors have organized the material in a reasonably logical yet unfamiliar order. I would guess that those who adopt this text will need to skip from chapter to chapter or restructure their courses in a major way. Some topics receive more or less attention than I believe is justified. Let me provide a few examples of this uneven treatment. The editors include in Part I a 5-page description of the regulatory aspects of QA & QC, a topic of little interest to undergraduates. In the liquid chromatography section there are 3.5 pages on thin-layer chromatography and 6.5 pages on field flow fractionation, but only 2.5 pages on capillary electrophoresis, a burgeoning area of analysis. While biamperometric and conductometric titrations are discussed, common redox titrations employing an indicator (e.g. iodometric titrations with starch endpoint) are ignored. Likewise, electrochemical stripping analysis, important in trace analysis, is given short shrift (half a page). The editors set a useful chapter template, but it is not followed in all cases. At the top of the first page of each chapter is a grayed box of general learning objectives, sort of a chapter overview, and most chapters begin with a very brief, often interesting historical overview. Worked numerical examples, though scarce, are found in grayed areas throughout the text. Specific and general references for further reading are a welcome • Vol. 77 No. 4 April 2000 • Journal of Chemical Education


Chemical Education Today

sight at the end of the chapters, but in some cases are missing. Review questions and exercises finish up each chapter. Though I write many of my own exercises and problems for student practice, I—and my students—do rely on textbook authors for additional interesting challenges related to the textbook material. The number and type of end-of-chapter problems are quite variable in Analytical Chemistry. For example, the chapters on infrared and Raman spectroscopy and on basic statistics end with a sufficient number of questions (35 and 22, respectively); but, inexplicably, only 4 questions follow the discussion of acid–base equilibria, only 7 follow the chapter on liquid and thin-layer chromatography, and there are none on immunoassay. Other important topics also are slighted. Most of the end-of-chapter questions are rather uninteresting and test simple rote learning, rather than requiring the synthesis and application of the knowledge acquired (higher-level learning). I would have liked to see spreadsheet or other computer work as the focus of some questions and an appendix of answers to at least some of the exercises. Numerous minor errors were evident, especially in the


first half of the book. Some were typographical, such as soulbility instead of solubility and equation of the complex instead of aquation of the complex, but others were more egregious, such as “w = 4σt2” instead of w = 4σt, and “ln K = ∆G °/RT ”, which is missing the minus sign. The standard electrode potentials listed in the appendix are confusing, because while the proper values for E ° are given, the half-reactions are written as oxidations rather than as reductions. On the whole, though, the principles of the field are described clearly and accurately. I would recommend Analytical Chemistry to prospective and practicing analytical chemists as a valuable reference to many existing and emerging analytical techniques. It certainly deserves a spot on my reference shelf. As a classroom text, however, the book is less interesting. Perhaps with tighter editing and greater focus on pedagogy, the book could compete with the U.S. leaders, such as Harris and Skoog. Robert Q. Thompson is in the Department of Chemistry, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH 44074.

Journal of Chemical Education • Vol. 77 No. 4 April 2000 •