SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1958

Principles of Quantitative Biological Emission Spectrography


For the past eight years our laboratory has devoted its main efforts to the development of emission spectrography as a tool in biological investigation. As in other scientific disciplines, workers in biology have been impressed with the sensitivity of the d-c arc, while they have deplored its lack of precision and have regretted that the precise, high-voltage spark is not more sensitive. Our work with helium, argon, neon, and krypton, aimed at improving sensitivity both by effects on line intensity and on signal-noise ratio, have been documented previously and do not require further discussion here (1–6). While adding basic knowledge and extending analytical techniques, these studies have not led to dramatic answers of technical problems which have beset other workers in many areas of application of emission spectrography. Just the same, a good deal has been learned in the process; we have certainly been able to answer many biological questions. From a spectrographer's point of view, however, this inquiry, while having resulted in a very satisfactory technique, has not yielded the kind of progress all of us undoubtedly strive for: the universal method, based on new principles.

Author Information

Vallee, BL
Biophysics Research Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass.
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Developed by Committee: E02
Pages: 47–57
DOI: 10.1520/STP39564S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5664-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-5663-0