optical emission spectrometry

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A method of chemical analysis used to determine the composition of archaeological materials, especially metal, glass, pottery, and stone. A small sample (5–10 mg) of the material to be analysed is volatilized or vaporized either in a laser beam or in an electric arc to excite the electrons in the sample and cause them to emit light. The wavelengths of the light emitted in this way are related to the chemical composition of the material being studied. Thus by analysing the spectrum of the light it is possible to calculate the range of elements present and their concentrations.

Subjects: Archaeology.

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