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Qualitative Chemistry

Elemental Composition Analysis, Material Identification & More

Elemental Composition AnalysisQualitative chemistry provides information about the elemental make-up or a composition analysis of a test sample by identifying individual elements or groupings of elements found in the sample. The qualitative test process can be used for material identification and detection of impurities and contaminants in test samples. The information and results generated during qualitative chemical analysis are valuable in selection and verification of materials and in uncovering the root cause of material failures. Qualitative chemistry can be performed using a number of instrumental and wet chemistry test methods. The most appropriate qualitative test method for each analysis will depend on the size, shape and intended future use of the sample, as well as the depth of information required about the sample. In some cases, it is necessary to verify only the presence of certain elements or groups. More often, the sample is a complex mixture and requires a more thorough composition analysis in order to identify all components. Only a few qualitative test methods are nondestructive, which leave the sample intact for future use.

Laboratory Testing Inc. offers qualitative chemistry for composition analysis, material identification and impurity detection with a variety of qualitative test methods including ICP Atomic Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-AES), ICP Mass Spectrometry Analysis (ICP-MS), Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS), portable X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy and wet chemistry.

The Qualitative Test Processes

ICP Analysis

Both ICP-AES (Atomic Emission Spectroscopy) and ICP-MS (Mass Spectrometry Analysis) are performed at LTI with equipment that can measure the whole spectrum necessary for the analysis of all the common metal bases.

Elemental analysis and material identification are provided by high-resolution, high-sensitivity ICP-AES spectrometers that can analyze 70 elements in the periodic table. ICP Mass Spectrometry analysis offers routine testing for trace elements in super alloys and provides ultra-trace elemental analysis for high purity alloys. ICP-MS spectrometers analyze most elements in the periodic table.

Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS)

During Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy, a detector separates the X-rays of different elements into an energy spectrum with peaks indicating more abundant elements. EDS can find the elemental composition of a wide variety of materials down to a spot size of a few microns. Laboratory Testing’s EDS system is integrated into a scanning electron microscope (SEM) which provides the ability to view very small areas on samples and generate high-resolution images. Combining the EDS system with the SEM allows the identification, at microstructural level, of compositional gradients at grain boundaries, second phases, impurities, inclusions, and small amounts of material. The SEM/EDS unit can be used to produce maps of element location, concentration, and distribution.

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR)

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) is the process used to analyze many organic materials, including plastics and other polymers using an absorption spectrum. FTIR can provide qualitative test information about the molecular structure of the material and chemical bonds.

Portable X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy

A portable X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy unit provides instant element analysis and alloy identification. The analysis is performed with a handheld tube-based analyzer that does not alter or damage the test material. This test method is used to verify elemental composition and filler material in welding applications and is also known as Positive Material Identification.

LTI Qualitative Chemistry Capabilities

The following capabilities are offered by LTI for complete qualitative chemical analysis:

  • ICP Atomic Emission Spectroscopy
  • ICP Mass Spectrometry Analysis
  • Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy
  • Portable X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy (Positive Material Identification)
  • Carbon/Sulfur/Nitrogen/Oxygen/Hydrogen Determination
  • Classical Wet Chemistry


  • ASTM E1252
  • ASTM E1476
  • ASTM E1508
  • MIL Specifications