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Atomic Spectroscopy in Coatings Analysis


  1. Dwight G. Weldon

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a0602

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

How to Cite

Weldon, D. G. 2006. Atomic Spectroscopy in Coatings Analysis. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. MATCO, Inc., Pittsburgh, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


In atomic spectroscopy, vaporized neutral atoms are detected by measuring either the absorption or emission of light at characteristic frequencies. In atomic absorption (AA) spectroscopy, radiation is absorbed by the atom in the process of exciting an electron from a lower energy state into a higher energy state. In atomic emission (AE) and inductively coupled plasma (ICP) spectroscopy, radiation is released when an electron from an excited energy state relaxes into a lower energy state. The energy required for these transitions occurs in either the visible or ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Atomic spectroscopy is a very useful technique in the field of coating analysis. It is primarily used for the analysis of metallic constituents, such as certain pigments and coating additives. It is extremely sensitive, and can detect several dozen different elements. It is especially useful in determining whether or not a particular coating contains environmentally hazardous levels of heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium and chromium. Disadvantages of the technique include its inability to determine the chemical form in which the element is present, somewhat laborious sample preparation procedures, and the inability to determine other important constituents of coatings, such as resins and solvents.