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High-resolution Continuum Source Atomic Absorption Spectrometry—Theory and Applications

Atomic Spectroscopy

  1. Bernhard Welz1,
  2. Maria Goreti R. Vale2,
  3. Stefan Florek3,
  4. Michael Okruss3,
  5. Mao-Dong Huang3,
  6. Helmut Becker-Ross3

Published Online: 15 MAR 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a9124

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

How to Cite

Welz, B., Vale, M. G. R., Florek, S., Okruss, M., Huang, M.-D. and Becker-Ross, H. 2010. High-resolution Continuum Source Atomic Absorption Spectrometry—Theory and Applications. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    Departamento de Química, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, SC, Brazil

  2. 2

    Instituto de Química, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

  3. 3

    Leibniz Institute for Analytical Sciences — ISAS — Department Berlin, Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2010


High-resolution continuum source atomic absorption spectrometry (HR-CS AAS) is probably the most innovative technique in the field of atomic spectrometry since the introduction of inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) in the 1980s. Although it uses the basic principle of atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS), i.e. the absorption of radiation by atoms in the gas phase, HR-CS AAS should not just be considered an improved AAS, but a new technique with an impressive number of new features. HR-CS AAS is a new player in the field of atomic spectrometry and has to be compared with all the other techniques that are available. We give a short historical introduction about the development of HR-CS AAS since the 1960s, although it was only in the 1990s, when components that are essential for the proper performance of this technique became available. Theoretical considerations are treated to the extent that is necessary to understand the basic difference between LS AAS (line source atomic absorption spectrometry) and HR-CS AAS. This is followed by a comprehensive treatment of the instrumental details from the continuum radiation source over the high-resolution monochromator to the array detector, giving also an insight into the essential control functions to guarantee troublefree operation. The special features of HR-CS AAS are discussed in detail in order to make possible a comparison with the other techniques of atomic spectrometry. One of these features is the possibility to determine nonmetals, such as phosphorus, sulfur, and the halogens using molecular absorption “lines”. In Section 5, it is shown that HR-CS AAS, in combination with a graphite tube atomizer, is probably the most rugged technique for trace-element determination currently available.


  • High-resolution continuum source AAS;
  • Atomic absorption spectrometry;
  • Xenon short-arc lamp;
  • Hot spot;
  • CCD array detector;
  • High-temperature molecular absorption spectrometry;
  • Non-metals determination;
  • Trace-element determination;
  • Direct solid sampling analysis;
  • Coal and crude oil analysis;
  • Environmental analysis;
  • Biological materials