Brian Wagner, a chemist at the University of Prince Edward Island, dropped in on a teaching lab to look at the flame coming off this atomic absorption spectrophotometer. The instrument sucks up a dissolved sample, aerosolizes it, and mixes it with flammable gases. When the gas and aerosol are ignited, the colored flame can be analyzed and used to determine the concentration of metal ions in the sample. In this case, the students were analyzing a sample with calcium ions in it. Wagner held a diffraction grating up to the flame to look at the various wavelengths that the ions emit when heated.
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