Niagara University was awarded a $10,000 grant from the 2020 Pittsburgh Conference Memorial National College Grant program. The university matched Pittcon’s grant to purchase a PerkinElmer PinAAcle 500 Touch Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrometer and four hollow-cathode lamps for the quantification of copper, iron, calcium/magnesium, and lead. This is the second Pittcon grant the university has received.
The FAAS is housed in Niagara’s B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences, enhancing the instruments currently available to students in the university’s science programs and facilitating the expansion of undergraduate teaching and research in the environmental sciences.
Atomic absorption spectrophotometry relies on the principle that atoms of different elements exhibit unique absorption features that may be used to identify and quantify the types of elements present in gas-phase samples. The FAAS utilizes a fuel source to vaporize the atoms for analysis, as many samples to be tested involve solid and liquid samples. Excitation of the vaporized atoms usually involves a specific hollow-cathode lamp to provide the proper light to observe a specific target atom of interest. In practice, it is common to utilize multiple lamp sources to quantify atoms present in complex samples, for example, determining how much iron, magnesium, and lead is present in an interior paint sample from 1953.
"Understanding and mitigating the significant environmental changes associated with global warming will challenge many of our future graduates in the natural and physical sciences,” said principal investigator Christopher S. Stoj, associate professor and chairperson of the biochemistry, chemistry, and physics departments. “Niagara University has been expanding our science faculty with expertise in environmental technologies while currently working to expand course/laboratory offerings in environmental and freshwater sciences. We anticipate that by designing and executing their own projects in trace metal analysis, biochemistry, and environmental chemistry using the new FAAS, students will be more likely to actively engage in the scientific process and understand that policy decisions are based on data collected by them as scientists.”