titration tītrā´shən [key], gradual addition of an acidic solution to a basic solution or vice versa (see acids and bases ); titrations are used to determine the concentration of acids or bases in solution. For example, a given volume of a solution of unknown acidity may be titrated with a base of known concentration until complete neutralization has occurred. This point is called the equivalence point and is generally determined by observing a color change in an added indicator such as phenolphthalein. From the volume and concentration of added base and the volume of acid solution, the unknown concentration of the solution before titration can be determined. Titrations can also be used to determine the number of acidic or basic groups in an unknown compound. A specific weight of the compound is titrated with a known concentration of acid or base until the equivalence point has been reached. From the volume and concentration of added acid or base and the initial weight of the compound, the equivalent weight , and thus the number of acidic or basic groups, can be computed. Instead of adding an indicator to observe the equivalence point, one can construct a graph on which the p H (see separate article) at regular intervals is plotted along one axis and the number of moles of added acid or base at these intervals along the other axis; such a plot is called a titration curve and is usually sigmoid ( S -shaped), with the inflection point, where the curve changes direction, corresponding to the equivalence point. From the p H at the equivalence point, the dissociation constant of the acidic or basic group can be determined (see chemical equilibrium ). If a compound contains several different acidic or basic groups, the titration curve will show several sigmoid-shaped curves like steps and the dissociation constant of each group can be obtained from the p H at its corresponding equivalence point.
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