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Course Description and Career Prospects

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Inorganic Chemistry

Course Description:

Inorganic chemistry is the study of the synthesis and behavior of inorganic and organometallic compounds. It has applications in every aspect of the chemical industry –including catalysis, materials science, pigments, surfactants, coatings, medicine, fuel, and agriculture. Inorganic chemists are employed in fields as diverse as the mining and microchip industries, environmental science, and education. Their work is based on understanding the behavior and the analogues for inorganic elements, and how these materials can be modified, separated or used–often in product applications. It includes developing methods to recover metals from waste streams; employment as analytical chemists specializing in analysis of mined ores; performing research on the use of inorganic chemicals for treating soil. Many inorganic chemists go into industry, but they are also at universities and in government labs. Inorganic chemists who work in government say their time is increasingly spent writing grant proposals and competing for a small pool of research money.

Inorganic chemists compare their jobs to those of materials scientists and physicists. All three fields explore the relationship between physical properties and functions, but inorganic chemistry is the most keenly focused on these properties at the molecular level.

The field of inorganic chemistry has traditionally been characterized by scientists with an artistic or creative flair. Many inorganic chemists say that they were drawn to the field in part by the pretty colors of the metals in the lab and by the interesting things that could be done in the lab. They often say the opportunities for creativity and inferential thinking are what they like best about their work. Describing themselves as tinkerers, inorganic chemists like putting things together and solving problems and stress the importance of being detail oriented, precise, and persistent. Inorganic chemists describe their work as a constant challenge.

Inorganic materials such as minerals, superconductive metals, ceramics, and other composites are the day-to-day concerns of inorganic chemist. Their work includes basic research, but is more often oriented towards product application. Their jobs often involve understanding the chemical properties of these materials and manipulating them, sometimes via reaction with other materials, to achieve particular desired properties.

Career Prospects :

Most inorganic chemists work in the lab. They work actively in partnership with engineers, physicists, and materials scientists; and, it is important for inorganic chemists to have a basic knowledge of these other disciplines. Inorganic chemists also spend time on project management, writing proposals, and getting funding for their work.

Inorganic chemists are employed by industries based on inorganic materials such as mining companies and ceramics makers.

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