Atomic absorption spectrophotometry

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An analytical instrument used to qualitatively and quantitatively determine the elemental content of materials. Atomic absorption (AA) spectrophotometry is similar to flame emission (FE) spectrophotometry in that the sample, prepared as an acid digested solution, is heated to incandescence using a controlled flame source. The difference is that during the sample aspiration, the AA flame is illuminated with one of over 50 hollow cathode elemental lamps that produce specific emission lines characteristic to a given element. The detector then measures spectrum of the flame plus the sample to determine the samples absorption of the radiation at these specific wavelengths. This method is more sensitive than FE. However, since only one element can be measured at a time, AA has generally been replaced in recent years by inductively coupled plasma (ICP) spectrophotometers, because they can analyze multiple elements simultaneously with much lower detection limits. AA is used to determine major and minor elements in stone, metal, glass, concrete, and other inorganic matrices.

Synonyms and Related Terms

AA; AAS; Atomabsorptionsspektrometrie (Deut.); spectrométrie d'absorption atomique (Fr.);

Resources and Citations

  • L.Tang, M.Troyer, "Flameless Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy" Technology & Conservation, 2/81, p. 40-45.
  • Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technologies, Paul Nicholson, Ian Shaw (eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2000 Comment: B.Aston, J.Harrell, I.Shaw, "Stone"