Optical Emission Spectrometry for Metals

OES Basics

An industry-standard analytical solution for metallurgical applications, optical emission spectrometry (OES) is well-established for the analysis of a large range of metals and alloys (from Ag to Zn). It is the ideal technology for process and quality control in metal production and is routinely applied directly in-the-field for foundry production. OES offers the possibility to analyze elemental composition of alloys down to the the trace level with minimal impact on operating throughput, ensuring precise and reliable readings for up to 40 individual alloying elements in a single minute. It is also possible to investigate non-metallic inclusions using advanced OES methods.

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What is OES?

Optical emission spectrometry (OES) is a tried-and-tested analytical technique that is widely used to measure the elemental composition of metals and alloys. It is often referred to as spark OES as electrical sparks are used to ablate surface material from metal samples so that it can produce characteristic optical emissions. This introduces the first of two primary components in a typical OES analyzer: the electrical source.

An electrode is typically used in OES systems to generate a high voltage electrical discharge that causes surface material to heat to the point of ablation. Vaporized molecules then become excited by the argon plasma generated by the electrical arc, or sparks. This causes them to emit element-specific light in the ultraviolet (UV) and visible range – although multiple emission lines will be present, comprising a full spectrum of wavelengths determined by the elements present in the sample and their concentration. Making sense of this spectrum requires the second primary component: the optical system.

Light generated by the spark process is directed towards the optical system and is dispersed through a vacuum region within the spectrometer housing using a diffraction grating. These signals are acquired and converted into electrical signals using either CCD (charge-couple device) detectors or PMTs (photomultiplier tubes). CCD detectors typically obtain signals from wavelengths of interest directly from collected spectra, while PMTs transform photons into electrical signals and transform those into concentrations using calibration curves.

Spark OES analysis provides the fastest possible determination of all the elements in metals of interest with outstanding accuracy and precision. Among the many metals and alloys that spark OES is ideal for analysing are: iron (Fe) and steel, aluminum (Al), copper (Cu), cobalt (Co), iron (Fe), magnesium (Mg), nickel (Ni), tin (Sn), titanium (Ti), and various precious metals. Alongside this exceptional precision, spark OES is also the most commonly used analytical technique in metallurgical facilities due to their ease-of-usability and maintenance. Sample preparation is quick and easy, typically performed using a standard grinding or milling machine, which can facilitate extremely high throughput (up to 400 samples a day).

Each of these integrated components is critical to making spark OES one of the highest reliability techniques in the analysis of metallic samples. It is routinely used to test finished and semi-finished goods from metals production (plates, sheets, tubes, etc.) and can be used in the field for interrogating melt samples from both primary and secondary metal production processes.

Customer Testimonial: ARL iSpark OES – ArcelorMittal in France

Optical Emission Analysis using the ARL iSpark Spectrometer

ARL SMS-2300 Automated Metals Analyzer for OES

OXSAS Optical Emission Analytical Software for High Quality Metal Analyses

Robotic-based Automation for OES to Optimise Steel Production Automation

ARL QuantoShelter Automated Metals Analyzer

OES Product Guide

Spark-OES is a central technology to the metals and alloy manufacturing chain, providing crucial insights into the chemical content of solid metallic samples throughout the production cycle. With a choice of robust, high-precision OES spectrometers under the innovative ARL product line, our products can satisfy the unique demands of analytical roles from the foundry to the rolling mill.

Among our proprietary OES product offerings are the ARL easySpark and ARL iSpark Series. Each is adapted to the harsh working environments of iron and steel foundries and casting mills, providing the speed and accuracy required to meet your quality requirements and productivity objectives.

Check the brochure covering our OES portfolio of products.

ARL iSpark OES

ARL iSpark

From routine elemental analysis to metals research and development, the Thermo Scientific ARL iSpark Optical Emission Spectrometer provides the solution that primary metals producers, foundries, fabricators in the automotive, aviation and appliance industries, contract laboratories and metal recyclers look for. Adapted to the harshest environments, ARL iSpark metals analyzers offer a high degree of functionality and features to achieve productivity and quality objectives.

ARL easySpark OES

ARL easySpark

The ARL easySpark metal analyzer is designed to meet the challenges and demands of small-to medium-sized plants and laboratories in the metal industry that require high-quality, yet cost-effective OES analysis to produce parts for automotive, aviation, aerospace and consumer products, among other industries.

ARL SMS 2500 Automation OES

ARL SMS 2500

Steel specifications are getting progressively more stringent while competitive pressures are driving demand for increased efficiency and lower production costs. The Thermo Scientific ARL SMS-2500 Robotics-Based Automation for OES is an automated quality control solution to optimize your steel production operation. Even the most complex samples are prepared and analyzed under reproducible conditions without operator intervention, so human variables and subjective factors are eliminated. The result is increased output, reliable results and reduced costs.

ARL iSpark OES

ARL easySpark OES

OES poster downloads - Quick Guide and Periodic Table
OES Periodic table and quick guide posters

We offer you our Optical Emission Spectrometry Quick Guide poster summarizing the OES basic theory, technology and applications, as well as OES Periodic Table poster. Download them now for free!

Download the posters