Chemistry Instrumentation at City College

Our chemistry students have hands-on access to a wide range of analytical instruments, many of which are not available to lower-division students at four-year institutions.

Some of the instrumental methods used by students in our courses:

 

  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR):

NMR uses the magnetic properties of atomic nuclei to obtain information about the structure of molecules. This method is widely used in organic chemistry (as well as in medicine, where it is referred to as MRI). We have a 60 MHz proton FT-NMR, funded in large part by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

  • Infrared Spectroscopy (IR):

IR uses the ability of chemical bonds to absorb infrared radiation to detect bond types in molecules. IR spectroscopy is extensively used in organic and inorganic chemistry. We have a FT-IR, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

  • Atomic Absorption (AA):

AA detects individual chemical elements by measuring the absorption of light by a high-temperature vapor. This method is widely used to detect trace elements such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and others. We have two AA's, which were donated by industrial labs some years ago.

  • Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS):

GC/MS separates mixtures of volatile compounds, and identifies the individual compounds based on the masses of the compounds and their fragments. GC/MS finds wide use in the analysis of mixtures of organic substances; it can also be used to analyze volatile inorganic mixtures. We have one GC/MS instrument, funded in large part by a grant from the National Science Foundation. (We also have three stand-alone gas chromatographs.)

  • High-Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)

HPLC separates mixtures of compounds in solution. This method is widely used in biology and biotechnology for separating mixtures containing very small amounts of solutes. We have one HPLC, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

  • High-Pressure Ion Chromatography (HPIC):

HPIC is similar to HPLC, but HPIC separates mixtures of ions in solution. HPIC is used to analyze mineral and other samples for trace metals and other ions (nitrates, phosphates, etc.). We have one HPIC, funded by a grant from the National Institute of Health.

  • Capillary Electrophoresis (CE):

CE is a new analytical method, similar in its uses to HPLC but more sensitive and able to deal with smaller amounts of analytes. It is rapidly becoming the method of choice in the biotechnology industry. We have one CE, obtained primarily through instructional equipment funding from the state of California.

In addition, students at City College routinely use a wide range of more common instruments, including visible and UV-visible spectrophotometers, pH meters, electronic balances, melting-point apparatus, voltmeters (multimeters), digital thermometers, and others. They also have access to two dedicated computer studios which are equipped with a wide range of educational and analytical software.