Analytical chemistry

Analytical chemistry
S?amus Higson
Oxford: OUP 2002 | Pp ix + 434 | ?24.99 | ISBN 0198502893
Reviewed by Gillian Greenway

The author of this book sets out to provide a clear, concise explanation of all the mainstream analytical techniques encountered in university chemistry degrees in just 434 pages.

There is a simple design with well laid out text and uncomplicated diagrams. I particularly like the diagrams as they are very clear and would be easy for students to reproduce. The author has eradicated mathematics wherever possible, which will be popular with undergraduates.

The book is divided into four parts: the analytical approach; chemical analysis; key analytical techniques; and applications. The writing style is clear and user friendly, and in many ways the author has achieved his aims. The section at the end of the book on analytical chemistry in practice is particularly good, providing modern coverage of bioanalytical analysis. This is unusual in this type of book.

In trying to simplify and reduce the content of the book there are, however, some problems. The depth of the coverage is very patchy and some really important techniques get missed out between sections. ICP-MS is the major trace elemental analysis technique and, while it is indexed, it gets lost between sections. The separation technique of ion chromatography (vital for anion analysis in environmental and forensic applications) is not mentioned, but conductivity detection for HPLC is discussed. There are also some factual errors that will need ironing out, for example the hollow cathode lamp (page 173) is shown to have a ’gauze window’ instead of a ’quartz window’.

In summary, the simple, clear explanations are very useful, but the wide scope of the book means it cannot provide the depth required for a fuller understanding of the topics. It will be of most use to first and second year chemistry undergraduates and for students studying related degrees requiring analytical chemistry.