Elemental Analysis

Depending on the requirements of your application, we will work with you to find the optimum instrument solution for your laboratory. Our portfolio ranges from atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS) and atomic fluorescence spectrometry (AFS) to inductively coupled plasma systems for optical emission (ICP-OES ) and mass spectrometry (ICP-MS).

Whether you are looking for a solution for routine analysis of a few elements with moderate sample quantities, for high-throughput multi-element analysis, a dedicated mercury analysis system or everything in between, we offer devices that can be optimized to your application.

General information on elemental analysis

The procedures for elemental analysis, a section of analytical chemistry based on atomic spectroscopy, are used for quantitative and qualitative determination of chemical elements. A basic distinction is made between two types of analysis – qualitative and quantitative elemental analysis.

Elemental analysis:

  • Qualitative elemental analysis is used to determine the exact components of a sample. Different Methods can be applied for this purpose, including simple chemical procedures, spectroscopy or chromatography.
  • Quantitative elemental analysis is used to break down the mass fraction/concentration of the elements contained in the sample. Applied methods can be mass spectrometric analysis, atomic absorption spectrometric analysis or atomic fluorescence spectrometric analysis.

Analytik Jena offers a selection of instruments for atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS), inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) and atomic fluorescence spectrometry (CV-AAS/AFS).

Distinction between elemental analysis and combustion elemental analysis

Elemental analysis can easily be mistaken for combustion elemental analysis. Although they sound similar, there is a fine yet significant distinction between the two. Combustion elemental analysis is committed to the analysis of non-metals (mainly carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur), phosphor and halogens. Elemental analysis on the other hand includes the remaining elements of the periodic table. Therefore, it covers a broader section than the elementary analysis.

Types of elemental analysis used in the devices of Analytik Jena

Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (AAS)

Atomic absorption spectrometry, or AAS for short, is a method of quantitative and qualitative analysis used primarily for solids and aqueous solutions. AAS relies on the absorption of radiation resulting from active free atoms inside the sample. The elements in the sample have a unique line spectrum that is revealed by atomic absorption spectrometry, allowing conclusions on the containing elements.

Depending on the atomization of the elements in the sample, atomic absorption spectrometry is divided into four sub-procedures:

  • F-AAS: flame atomic absorption spectrometry
  • GF-AAS or A-AAS: graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry
  • CV-AAS: cold vapor atomic absorption spectrometry
  • HR-CS-AAS: high-resolution continuum-source atomic absorption spectrometry


Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS)
Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is an extremely sensitive mass spectrometric analysis method. It is used to detect light traces of heavy metals, such as mercury, lead or cadmium. For inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, a high-frequency electromagnetic argon gas field is used to generate plasma which heats the sample to a very high temperature and vaporizes it. The atomic constituents released are ionized and the isotopes of the elements are measured. This quantitative elemental analysis allows a highly sensitive detection of nanograms per liter. By linking further equipment, very specific analyses can be executed. For example, a laser ablation device which makes a non-destructive analysis possible, that can be used on historical finds.

Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES)
Emission spectrometry for elemental analysis is also referred to as: Flame spectroscopy or flame photometry, atomic emission spectrometry (AOS) and optical emission spectrometry (OES). Analytik Jena devices combine optical emission spectrometry with inductively coupled plasma (ICP-OES).

Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry is similar to ICP-MS: A high-frequency field generates a plasma of argon which excites the elements inside the sample and makes them emit light. Emitted element-specific light is detected and analyzed. Thus, the elements contained in a sample can be determined qualitatively and quantitatively.

Atomic fluorescence spectrometry (CV-AFS)
Atomic fluorescence spectrometry is a measurement technique similar to AAS. However, instead of the absorption a fluorescent signal is detected. This procedure is mainly used to identify even the smallest traces of mercury. High sensitivity and fewer interferences give this analysis an advantage over AAS.

Areas of application of elemental analysis

Elemental analysis belongs to the field of inorganic chemistry. As early as the beginning of the 19th century an analytic method was developed that determined the amount of carbon in samples. Since then, further methods have been established that made it possible to determine other substances and have brought elemental analysis to where it is today.

Elemental analysis is of great importance to scientific institutions and the chemical industry. Furthermore, almost all companies working with raw materials have to perform regular analyses for quality control and monitoring.

In agriculture, for example, arable land is analyzed to determine the condition of the soil and to calculate the appropriate concentration of fertilizers to increase the yield. Crops are also examined for quality and toxic elements.

The oil industry uses elemental analysis to monitor its own production, and also to optimize its products. By analyzing used oil for wear metal and additives, weak points in the oil extraction and the processing can be found and optimized.

Consumer protection is also an area where elemental analysis is used. The pharmaceutical industry analyzes drugs. Tab water is regularly examined, foods are randomly tested for quality or companies commission tests for allergens in clothes or toys.

Elemental analysis is thus an essential component in various areas of our life. It provides deep insights and knowledge that let us advance every day – in science, research, industry or agriculture.

With the devices for elemental analysis from Analytik Jena, you are ideally equipped in all areas of application – for routine analysis as well as for dedicated analyses with high requirements. Our broad selection offers suitable devices and solutions specifically for your intended purpose.

(source: https://www.laborpraxis.vogel.de/elementbestimmung-schnell-und-empfindlich-a-102776/)