Look beyond sample digestion and consider the total sample preparation workflow for elemental analysis
As the performance of atomic spectroscopy techniques for elemental analysis has improved over the past several decades, there has been a concurrent need for improvements in sample preparation. While the sample digestion step appropriately draws the most attention in the preparation process, there are other important steps in the sample preparation workflow that also impact the outcomes of the laboratory, some of which may be unexpected in scope and scale. We present a ‘total workflow’ approach to sample preparation and propose ways to improve key aspects of elemental analysis such as lab throughput, data quality, costs, and safety.
Just as importantly, we also offers practical advice for preventing workflow disruptions, such as incomplete digestions or sample contamination, which can prevent a laboratory from meeting their overall performance, cost, and safety goals.
These decades of experience have led to the development of several tools to address most routine tasks in the overall sample preparation process. Reagents handling, cleaning approach, supply of ultrapure acids and the handling of digestion vessels are all parameters to consider. In fact, all of them have an impact on achieving superior elemental analysis through a better sample preparation workflow.