What Is Pure Chemistry? Definition & Examples

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  • 0:02 What Is Pure Chemistry?
  • 2:08 Pure Chemistry at…
  • 4:39 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Reid

Danielle has taught middle school science and has a doctorate degree in Environmental Health

The curiosity to learn about exciting concepts in science describes pure chemistry. Continue reading to explore what pure chemistry is and some examples involving pure chemistry research.

What Is Pure Chemistry?

Have you ever wondered why water freezes or how nylon is made? Do you like to figure things out just for fun, even if you can't necessarily use the information for anything? You might enjoy pure chemistry.

If we step into the field of chemistry we will see there are two broad categories: applied chemistry and pure chemistry. You can think of each branch as sisters. Although they are related, they have very unique differences. Pure chemistry is the ability to study something for your own knowledge benefit. On the other hand, applied chemistry is the process of using your knowledge for an intended purpose or application.

Let's think of it this way, pure chemistry is our theoretical brain of chemistry. This simply means that, as a pure chemist, you like to investigate the theory or principles of important chemistry topics. Applied chemistry is our practical brain of chemistry. As an applied chemist, you research the different ways to solve real world problems.

But wait a minute; did you know pure chemistry could help its sister, applied chemistry? Yep, it can! Findings from pure chemistry research can provide a great stepping stone for applied chemistry research. There are so many projects created from scientists who were curious about something, which in the end, led to useful discoveries.

Wilhelm Rontgen and his work lead to the X-ray
x ray

Meet Wilhelm Röntgen. He was a scientist truly curious about these things called 'crookes tubes.' Learning all he could about these tubes eventually led to the discovery of an X-ray. We can take his initial work and categorize it as a form of pure chemistry research. However, the ability to take that work and apply it to the production of a useful product, the X-ray, is what we call applied chemistry.

Pure Chemistry at Work: Examples

There are several examples that involved the use of pure chemistry. Our first example involves materials we can find in a variety of linen products. These materials are cotton and silk. Many, many years ago, a scientist by the name of Hermann Staudinger, wanted to learn more about the molecular structure of cotton and silk fibers.

Structure of cotton and silk

Hard at work in his lab, he discovered that both materials contain molecules that link together like a chain. This example fits with the scope of pure chemistry because Hermann only had the intent to learn something new. He wanted to learn more about the structure of these materials.

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