Troy Dermota (Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, USA)
When using trace analysis methods such as Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy, optimization of the method used to ensure the greatest sensitivity and reproducibility is essential.
The experiment involves optimization of boron analysis. Boron is an excellent element for teaching AA because of its high detection limit and the need for using two matrix modifiers to obtain reasonable results. Students are given an explanation of the role matrix modifiers play in the analysis along with a set of starting conditions. Students then optimize the matrix modifier and sample ratios as well as the furnace temperature program to obtain the lowest possible detection limit.
During the optimization process, students learn the importance and effectiveness of having the proper ratios of modifiers and sample as well as an effective temperature program. The students also develop a rational and systematic approach to the optimization process.