ATOMIC ABSORPTION SPECTROMETRY
Julia O'Hallorans and Marco A. Inzunza
Perkin-Elmer Spectrophotometer Model 460
Atomic absorption spectroscopy may be defined as a method for determining the concentration of an element in a sample by measuring the intensity of external radiation absorbed by atoms produced from a sample at a wavelength characteristic for that element. Soil scientists have used spectrochemical methods to determine elemental contents of soil digests, soil extracts and plant digests for many years. Early research related elemental soil content with measurement of essentials plant nutrients to determine their soil chemistry and to make appropriate fertility recommendations. Flame emission spectrometry was successfully used to make analytical determinations of K, Ca and Mg. The basic principles of flame atomic absorption were discovered since 1860, but it was until 1960 that the analytical potential of atomic absorption was widespread used and extended to micronutrients and nonessential elements that can affect crop growth and animal health. In the last 20 years, with the introduction and development of furnace atomic absorption, the use of these systems has greatly increased the knowledge to determine trace levels in the soil environment.
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