Atomic absorption spectroscopy is a proven standard method for detecting arsenic in drinking water, the metal contents of ores or aluminium in food. High-quality Heraeus hollow-cathode lamps are used to determine elements in samples of liquids and solids qualitatively and quantitatively.
The measuring principle is based on the absorption of light when the sample is vaporised and analysed in the gaseous phase.
Typical environmental applications
- Drinking-water analysis
- Controlling of industries and sewage water
- Monitoring of waters
- Plant material analysis
- Soil analysis
- Metallurgy, e.g. determination of mineral contents in geological samples or in alloys
AAS enables precise measurements of inorganic compounds to check the concentration and purity of certain substances. For example, measurements of arsenic in drinking water and molybdenum in soil samples, which can cause rickets in cattle and sheep. Moreover, this analytic method is used to determine the metal content in ores. The results help assess the profitability of mines.
Typical medical applications
- Forensic sciences
- Analysis of trace metals in serums, blood, urine, cerebrospinal fluids and tissue
- Pharmaceutical and sanitary products
The measurement of trace metallic elements in body tissue is important to health and to detect diseases. Atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS) can measure parts per million or parts per billion concentrations of these trace elements to check they are within the limits. And AAS also helps identify inorganic active pharmaceutical ingredients.
Typical industrial applications
Determination of additives in:
- Petroleum products
- Enamels, oils, inks and paints
- Textiles, fibres and plastics
- Pure chemicals
- Industrial sewage
AAS can measure traces of iron, aluminium, nickel and chromium in concentrations of parts per million or parts per billion. Such measurements are taken, for example, to determine metallic contamination in aircraft hydraulic oils. They indicate the necessity of system repair or maintenance.
Typical food chemistry applications
- Control of foodstuffs and animal feed
- Determination of trace elements
- Control of heavy metals
Trace elements occur naturally in food. However, contamination may also be created by auxiliary products, in manufacturing processes and by packaging. For example, it is important to monitor aluminium contents in food.
Aluminium is often used in packaging and may be a nerve poison if high concentrations occur. Analyses using atomic absorption spectroscopy are a reliable method to determine the contents of such metals.