Research Group for Atomic Spectrometry


Integrated contact cuvette, designed at this department


Graphite Furnace Atomic Absorption Spectrometry

Graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry (GFAAS) is also known by various other acronyms, including electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry (ETAAS). Briefly, the technique is based on the fact that free atoms will absorb light at frequencies or wavelengths characteristic of the element of interest (hence the name atomic absorption spectrometry). Within certain limits, the amount of light absorbed can be linearly correlated to the concentration of analyte present. Free atoms of most elements can be produced from samples by the application of high temperatures. In GFAAS, samples are deposited in a small graphite tube, which can then be heated to vaporize and atomize the analyte.

The figure at the top of this page shows a graphite tube designed by Wolfgang Frech and Bruno HŁtsch (retired from Ringsdorff-Werke GmbH, Bonn, Germany). Light (red lines) from a source emitting wavelengths specific to the element of interest passes through the tube, where it will be absorbed by free atoms produced during heating of the tube.
Clinical and biological materials: blood, urine, synovial fluid Environmental samples: natural waters, sediments, plant materials Industrial materials: steels, petroleum products

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This document was last updated on July 31, 1996.