Atomic Spectroscopy is an analysis used to know the elemental composition of an analyte with the help of its electromagnetic or mass spectrum. Many techniques can be used in the analysis, such as flame atomic absorption spectroscopy, ICP-OES, ICP-MS, and graphite furnace AA. With the availability of a variety of atomic spectroscopy techniques, selecting the most appropriate technique is vital in achieving an accurate, reliable, and real-world result. For proper selection, one requires basic knowledge of each technique since they have their advantages and disadvantages.
Below are some of the most important criteria for selecting a technique for analysis.
Generally, this is the concentration range over which quantitative results can be obtained without having to recalibrate the system. When selecting a technique, it is important to select a technique with an analytical working range that is based on the analyte concentrations. This reduces analysis time by enabling samples with varying analyte concentrations to be analyzed together. You should choose a wide analytical working range to reduce sample handling requirements, reducing potential errors.
The available detection limits achievable for a given element are essential in determining the usefulness of an analytical technique for a given problem. The process requires adequate detection-limit capabilities, and without it, you will perform lengthy analyte concentration procedures before analysis. Typical detection limits range differently with different Atomic Spectroscopy techniques. For instance, use Flame AA if the detection limits range from 1-100ppb, graphite furnace AA if the range is between 1-0.01ppb, and ICP-MS if the range is between 1ppb to more than 0.001ppb.
Sample throughput is the number of samples that can be analyzed per unit time. Analyses performed at the limits of detection or where the precision is key will be more time consuming than less demanding. Where limits of detection are not limiting, the number of elements to be determined per sample, and the analytical technique will determine the sample throughput.
Most techniques complement each other, making it unclear as to which is the optimum technique for a particular application. Your choice should be guided by the factors mentioned above to ensure you get optimal results. It would help if you also considered other factors such as costs and ease of use when settling on an Atomic Spectroscopy technique.
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