Self-Absorption in Flame Emission Spectroscopy

Flame emission is subject to the same types of chemical interferences as atomic absorption. These interferences are minimized by adjusting the flame’s composition and adding protecting agents, releasing agents, or ionization suppressors. An additional chemical interference results from self-absorption. Because the flame’s temperature is greatest at its center, the concentration of analyte atoms in an excited state is greater at the flame’s center than at its outer edges. If an excited state atom in the flame’s center emits a photon while returning to its ground state, then a ground state atom in the cooler, outer regions of the flame may absorb the photon, decreasing the emission intensity. For higher concentrations of analyte self-absorption may invert the center of the emission band, as shown here.


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