Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS)
- Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS) was developed by CSIRO Scientist Dr Alan Walsh in the 1950s.
- Light with specific frequencies is absorbed by different metals when they vaporize in a flame.
The energy absorbed excites electrons, moving them from their ground state to a higher energy state.
- Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy uses hollow cathode lamps to emit light with these frequencies which is then absorbed by the sample containing the metal ion.
- The amount of light absorbed is proportional to the concentration of the metal ion in solution.
Concentrations are often expressed as mg/L or ppm.
- The amount of light absorbed by the sample is compared to the amount of light absorbed by a set of standards of known concentration.
Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy can be used to measure the concentration of metals in :
- mining operations and in the production of alloys as a test for purity
- contaminated water, especially heavy metal contamination in industrial waste water
- organisms, such as mercury in fish
- air, eg lead
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