Structural Analysis of an Organic Substance
For Student Groups

A white powder – but what is it, actually? This course illustrates in detail the approaches and analysis techniques a chemist applies to reveal the formula, the functional groups and finally the structure of an unknown test substance.

Book Structural Analysis

16 to 21 years
1.5 days
Maximum number of participants


  • First steps to determine the properties of a substance (physical characteristics, C, H, N, S analysis to determine the molecular formula)
  • Determination of functional groups by detection reactions
  • Determination of molar mass by acid-base titration and mass spectrometry
  • Oxidation with potassium permanganate and identification of the reaction products
  • NMR investigation of structural isomers

From everyday work in the laboratory, we are used to it: There is a container labelled with the substance in it. However, what do you do when facing an unknown substance? What logical steps can you take to find out which sum and structural formula this substance has? In this course, the experience this step by step: From solubility and melting point determination (physical characteristics) via qualitative (detection reactions) and quantitative (titration) determination of functional groups to modern analytical methods (mass spectrometry, NMR, 13C spectrum). After each step, the students use the acquired information to make suggestions on the formula and the structure of the unknown test substance in order to be able to plan their own approach to determine the structure.