Spectroscopic Methods of Analysis: Atomic Absorption and Emission Spectrophotometry

Authored by: John P. Oberdier

Encyclopedia of Pharmaceutical Science and Technology

Print publication date:  July  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9781841848198
eBook ISBN: 9781351124874
Adobe ISBN:


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Often it is necessary to measure the metal content of different kinds of samples in the pharmaceutical industry. These samples can be actual products that have metals, such as calcium or magnesium added for their therapeutic value or biological samples, such as blood, urine, and tissue. More recently, work has been done on the role of metals in biological processes. In addition, products can be monitored for trace metal contamination, that can lead to unexpected degradation of product. A number of techniques are available for metal analyses. Some of the more common techniques are colorimetry, titrimetry, atomic absorption spectrophotometry (AA), fluorescence spectrophotometry, and emission spectrophotometry. The most common form of emission spectrophotometry is inductively coupled plasma (ICP). Thus, the analyst must choose the best approach for the sample being analyzed. The purpose of this article is to give a general overview of the strengths and limitations of atomic absorption spectrophotometry and ICP so that the best technique can be selected for the problem to be solved.

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