Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Part One. Development of a New Carbon Furnace for Atomic Absorption Spectrometry. A new, multipurpose carbon furnace was designed and tested for quantitative atomic absorption spectrometry. The furnace had two separately controlled heating chambers, one for vaporization of the sample and the other for atomization of the sample. Basically, three modes of furnace operation were investigated. Quantitation was investigated with (a) the atomization section hot and (b) the atomization section cold, for trapping before atomization. The vaporization section was heated quickly in each case. Speciation of lead compounds was carried out by slowly heating the vaporization section, while the atomization section was hot. Variations on these basic methods (including the use of a carbon rod sampling device) were also studied. Elements investigated included lead, mercury, zinc, copper, nickel, tin, arsenic, and magnesium. The new furnace design was shown (i) to eliminate sample loss, (ii) to reduce molecular background absorption, (iii) to be capable of many different modes of operation and (iv) to be capable of speciation. It was much more versatile than commercially available models. Part Two. Studies on Speciation of Lithium in Blood. The use and efficacy of lithium in the treatment of certain mental disorders is well known, but its mode of action is not known. Several studies were carried out with the goal of detecting two or more lithium species in the blood serum of mental patients undergoing lithium treatment. "Coupled" techniques investigated included liquid chromatography--furnace atomic absorption, liquid chromatography--inductively coupled plasma atomic emission, liquid chromatography--flame atomic emission and evolved gas analysis--flame atomic emission. For various reasons, data obtained with these techniques were inconclusive. Li-7 Fourier transform/nuclear magnetic resonance was used to detect two lithium peaks, which indicated the possible presence of two lithium species in the blood serum of two mental patients undergoing lithium treatment.