Atomic Spectra

Atomic spectroscopy is the study of the electromagnetic radiation absorbed and emitted by atoms. Since unique elements have characteristic (signature) spectra, atomic spectroscopy, specifically the electromagnetic spectrum or mass spectrum, is applied for determination of elemental compositions. It can be divided by atomization source or by the type of spectroscopy used. In the latter case, the main division is between optical and mass spectrometry. Mass spectrometry generally gives significantly better analytical performance, but is also significantly more complex. This complexity translates into higher purchase costs, higher operational costs, more operator training, and a greater number of components that can potentially fail. Because optical spectroscopy is often less expensive and has performance adequate for many tasks, it is far more common Atomic absorption spectrometers are one of the most commonly sold and used analytical devices.


The energy of electromagnetic radiation is

The energy of electromagnetic radiation formula


h = Plank’s constant

c = velocity of light

λ = wave length of light

Causes atomic spectra

The Atomic emission spectra is produced when excited electrons return to the ground state. When electrons return to a lower energy level than they emit energy in the form of light. The emitted light corresponds to energies of the specific electrons. When atoms are excited they emit light of certain wavelengths which correspond to different colors. The emitted light can be observed as a series of colored lines with dark spaces in between, this series of colored lines is called a atomic spectra. The each packet of energy corresponds to a line in the atomic spectrum means there is nothing between each line therefore the spectrum is not continuous.

The uses of Atomic Spectroscopy

Atomic Spectroscopy is used for identifying the spectral lines of materials used in metallurgy.

Atomic Spectroscopy is used in pharmaceutical industries to find the traces of materials used.

Atomic Spectroscopy can be used to study multidimensional elements.

The types of atomic spectroscopy

Atomic emission spectroscopy

Atomic emission spectroscopy involves the transfer of energy from the ground state to an excited state. The electronic transition can be explained in atomic emission.

Atomic absorption spectroscopy

This requires identical energy difference between the lower and higher energy levels. Atomic absorption spectroscopy principle uses the fact that the free electrons generated in an atomizer can absorb radiation at specific frequency. In the gaseous state, quantifies the absorption of ground-state atoms.

Atomic fluorescence spectroscopy

Atomic fluorescence spectroscopy is a combination of atomic emission and atomic absorption as it involves radiation of both excitation and de-excitation.