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As the capabilities of an analytical laboratory expand to meet the increasing demand for tighter specifications and lower detectability, one must be cautious not to let the chemistries involved be a limitation to the analysis. This becomes particularly true when sophisticated, multi-element analytical capability in an instrument allows over 800 elemental determinations per hour, and the typically labor-intensive preparation of the samples prevents utilizing such capability. Classical preparation techniques involve multiple steps and introduce contamination and error into the analysis. Some procedures involve costly equipment or slow dissolution times, which further reduce the laboratories throughput. There are many techniques: some very old that have been forgotten through lack of use and others that are so unconventionally new that analysts usually do not consider them, which are applicable to the preparation of many types of samples. This report reviews a selection of the techniques themselves and the results obtained from the analysis of several types of samples.
dissolution, chemical attack, fusion, microwave, pressure bomb, ultrasonic, oxidation, ashing, analytical spectroscopy, sample introduction, inorganic chemistry, flux, acid digestion
Regional laboratory manager, Beckman Instruments, Inc., Piscataway, NJ
Chief chemist, Chem-Chek Consulting, South Bound Brook, NJ