The technologies developed in analytical chemistry have defined in spectacular detail the properties of . The field now faces enormously important and interesting problems of which molecules are only a part: for example, understanding the nature of life; helping to manage megacities, oceans, and atmospheres; and making health care (especially diagnostics) affordable and relevant. The emergence of these problems involving molecular raises the issue of how (and what) analytical chemistry should teach. Historically, it has been essential to chemistry in teaching the science of measurement. As complicated analytical techniques proliferate, it must consider how to balance teaching the of sophisticated devices and the fundamentals of analysis and measurement. This review (by an admiring but nonanalytical chemist) sketches the essential role of analytical methods—especially ones made up on the spot—in guiding research in new fields, with examples from self-assembled monolayers, soft lithography, paper diagnostics, and self-assembly; and suggests issues in teaching.


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