Everything you need to know about Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy

Scientific and technical developments are still pushing forward, supplying society with creative solutions to age-old dilemmas. Atomic absorption spectroscopy is one such advance that has yielded many benefits in various industries.


While this method dates back to the mid-19th century, recent developments in technology and the use of automated workstations are now allowing scientists to perform these processes with improved efficiency and reliability.


Below is a brief description of the past and the function of this process; including some of today’s more popular techniques of nuclear absorption and applications in operation.


What is atomic absorption spectroscopy?


Atomic absorption spectroscopy, also abbreviated AAS, is a method that measures the concentration of gas-phase atoms in a given sample. The concentration of these atoms is measured by measuring the amount of light absorbed by the free ions in the sample.


Through exposing the sample to light at a particular wavelength and tracking how much of that light is absorbed by the sample, scientists are not only able to determine the presence of the element within the sample, but also the concentration of that element.


Atomic absorption spectroscopy can detect approximately 70 different elements and can be used in both solid and liquid samples; however, additional procedures are needed to experiment with solid samples. Atomic absorption spectroscopy is used in many industries and is instrumental in the identification of metals in the sample.


When is Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy used?


Atomic absorption spectroscopy has a diverse laboratory and testing uses in commercial, clinical, and research settings as the main component in various processes.


These processes shall include:


  • Regulation of quality: In industry, there are various raw materials requiring inspection and analysis to check that there are adequate quantities of some main elements and that there are not too many impurities, some of which may be harmful. In mining, AAS may test for the concentration of valuable materials before excavation.


  • Toxicology for pharmaceutical companies, AAS can evaluate the small amounts of catalyst materials used in the manufacture of drugs and other impurities.
  • In environmental tests, the concentration of different elements in rivers, drinking water, and seawater can be measured.
  • In the food and beverage industry, different amounts of elements in wine, beer, and fruit beverages can be measured and the forms of contamination in food testing.
  • AAS is used in agriculture to analyze the mineral content of plants and soils.
  • Metals and other substances can have a bad effect on oil and gas, which is why the petrochemical industry uses AAS.


As a tool, AAS can analyze the content of some metals in different materials. The technique also supports sensitive research in the nuclear industry where potentially harmful elements could be found in waste and water production.





As we have reported, nuclear absorption spectroscopy is used in a wide range of industries and fields of scientific research. Any of the most common applications for this technique are described below.



  1. Agriculture


Atomic absorption spectroscopy is widely used in agriculture and environmental science research. Atomic absorption spectroscopy, as well as atomic fluorescence spectroscopy, which analyzes the light released from the sample rather than the light absorbed, are often used in different fields of agricultural research.


Usually, they are used to classify and assess the presence of potentially dangerous elements in the system. One popular usage for these techniques is the study of soil samples and the effects of soil quality on the total rate of food production in a given region.


Soil tests containing high amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen also yield higher quantities of input and grow better crops. Atomic absorption and atomic fluorescence spectroscopy can be used to determine the identity and quantity of these elements.


These techniques can also be used to detect small concentrations of hazardous chemicals, such as rhodium, in water samples.


  1. Forensics


Atomic absorption spectroscopy has been used for many years in the study of forensic sciences. Using this technology, forensic scientists will conduct an in-depth examination of blood samples, brain and muscle tissue, and bullet powder traces.


This technology also significantly increased the accuracy of toxicology studies of cases of metal poisoning. Popular sources of metal toxicity, such as mercury and lead, can be quickly detected using this technology and can be identified even in trace quantities.


Although atomic absorption spectroscopy has been a well-established tool for the study of metallic elements materials for many years, it remains a benchmark technique.


This is because it has a better sensitivity than other techniques and fewer drawbacks. It also operates specifically with very limited sample sizes, making it simple, effective, and inexpensive as a test tool.


Various businesses and sectors rely on this type of testing to ensure that their products or materials they manufacture are sufficiently free from corrosion or contain the right degree of such metallic elements to support their inherent value.

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