Atomic Absorption Spectrometry

Atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS) is a spectroanalytical procedure for the quantitative determination of chemical elements using absorption of optical radiation (light) by free atoms in the gaseous state.

The technique makes use of absorption spectrometry to asses the concentration of an analyte in a sample. The electrons of the atoms in the flame atomizer are promoted to higher orbitals (an excited state) for a short period of time by absorbing a defined quantity of energy (radiation of a given wavelength). This amount of energy is specific to a particular electron transition in a particular element. In general, each wavelength corresponds to only one element, and the width of an absorption line is only of the order of a few picometers (pm), which gives the technique its elemental selectivity. The radiation flux without a sample and with a sample in the atomizer is measured using a detector, and the ratio between the two values (the absorbance) is converted to analyte concentration (or mass) using the Beer-Lambert Law. An AAS analysis can be used to determine over 70 different elements in solution, although Gold Analysis following Fire Assay digestion is most common.

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