Skip to Content Skip to Search / Nav

A Long Shot that Paid Off: CSIRO's Atomic Absorption Project

The discovery in the early nineteenth century that chemical elements could be identified by observing their emission spectra let to the development of accurate methods of chemical analysis based on atomic emission spectra. But it was nearly 100 years before Dr A. Walsh of the CSIRO Division of Chemical Physics started asking questions and became convinced that there would be many fundamental advantages in using spectrochemical methods based on atomic absorption spectra.

Despite many technical difficulties and lack of interest overseas, Dr Walsh and his colleagues persisted and finally showed that the technique they had devised had widespread applications in fields as diverse as medicine, engineering, agriculture and mineral exploration.

Produced in 1970.

Libraries and tags

00:59:31 | Exterior CSIRO Division of Chemical Physics, Dr. Alan Walsh drivingin, parking, entering building
01:00:14 | Interview Dr. Alan Walsh
01:00:32 | Atomic Absorption Spectrometer - AAS
01:00:35 | Title over Atomic absorption spectrometer
01:00:41 | Researcher performing analysis on Atomic absorption spectrometer
01:01:52 | Dr. John David in greenhouse, telling uses of Atomic absorptionspectrometer for plants and animals
01:01:58 | Dr. John Harley outside hospital explaining uses of Atomic absorptionspectrometer in hospital
01:02:09 | Mr. Ray Beckwith in wine collar speaking of use of Atomic absorptionspectrometer in wine production
01:02:18 | Mr. Ross Johnson in laboratory
01:02:25 | Conrad Heerdt in laboratory
01:02:31 | Dr. Alan Walsh speaks about early spectroscopy work
01:03:29 | Still - B/W cover of 1860 Philosophical magazine and Journal ofScience
01:03:40 | Still - B/W photographs of Gustav Kirchhoff and of Robert Bunsen
01:03:54 | Graphics - B/W diagrams of equipment used for emission spectra analysis
01:04:07 | Graphics - Bands of emission spectron of some elements
01:04:32 | Re-enactment of Bunsen's experiment, passing light througha flame showing emission spectrum and absorption spectrum for sodiumchloride
01:05:22 | Graphics - solar spectrum, solar radiation and absorption in outerlayers of its atmosphere, B/W pages of Bunsen and Kirchhoff's paper
01:06:21 | Interview Dr. Alan Walsh tells why he started looking at atom'sabsorption
01:08:30 | B/W paper by Dr. Alan Walsh on Atomic absorption spectrometer
01:08:44 | Interview Dr. Alan Walsh
01:09:00 | Graphics - Diagram of Atomic absorption spectrometer for chemicalanalysis
01:09:11 | Atomic absorption spectrometer equipment on display at Instituteof Physics Exhibition in Melbourne, 1954
01:09:20 | Graphics - animation sequence explaining Atomic absorption spectroscopy
01:10:57 | Exhibition equipment again
01:11:11 | B/W scientific paper including photo of equipment
01:11:29 | Exterior Ruakura Soil Research Station, New Zealand
01:11:36 | Preparation of plant for analysis
01:12:21 | Interview Mr. Eric Allan, NZ
01:13:02 | Apparatus for recording absorption spectrograms, E.A.
01:13:41 | Exterior CSIRO Division of Plant Industry in Canberra
01:13:46 | Dr. John David in laboratory describing the instrument, assembledin 1957, used for agricultural sample analysis
01:15:01 | Interview Dr. Alan Walsh
01:16:14 | Still B/W atomic absorption apparatus used about 1960
01:16:28 | Industrial area, air pollution, smog, interior foundry, pouringmolten metal
01:16:48 | Interview Mr. B. Belcher outside BHP Research Laboratories
01:17:08 | Interior laboratory, shelves of chemical bottles, researchers doinganalyses
01:17:20 | Interior steelworks, sample taken from furnace
01:17:41 | Laboratory - researchers performing chemical analyses
01:17:58 | Interview Dr. John Willis in laboratory with Atomic absorption apparatus
01:19:23 | Interview Dr. Alan Walsh
01:19:55 | Exterior Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, Sydney, ambulancepulls up at door
01:20:07 | Interview Dr. John Harley, Research Director, outside hospital
01:20:32 | Hospital war, babies and children in cots, tended by nurses, bloodsample taken
01:20:46 | Sample analysed on Atomic absorption spectrometer
01:20:55 | Electroplating - sample taken from solution in tank, samples ofelectroplating in normal and contaminated electro deposits, Mr. RossJohnson explaining samples
01:22:00 | Scientist using Atomic absorption spectrometer
01:22:18 | Wine cellar sample of wine taken from large wine barrel, Mr. RayBeckwith, Penfolds Wines, tastes sample explains use of Atomic absorptionspectrometer in winemaking, samples analysed in laboratory
01:23:35 | Diesel locomotive passenger train passing railway crossing
01:23:49 | Conrad Heerdt, Commonwealth Railways in laboratory, discusses useof Atomic absorption spectrometer for analysis of used lubricating oilfrom diesel engines, Diesel locomotive in rail yard, inside locomotive,taking sample of lube oil, analyses in laboratory
01:24:57 | Elements highlighted on chart, bulk analyses in laboratory, andin field, Mobile laboratory driven up hill through bush
01:25:29 | Core samples taken from corer to storage box, cores broken withgeological hammer, analysed in mobile lab using Atomic absorption spectrometry
01:26:04 | Interior laboratory - bulk geochemical analyses
01:26:24 | Interview - Mr. Albert Brown
01:27:09 | Atomic absorption spectrometry books on shelf
01:27:19 | Interview Dr. Alan Walsh
01:27:44 | Draughting office
01:27:53 | Varian Techtron Pty. Ltd. production line operators at work benches,assembling Atomic absorption apparatus, glass blowing sealing glasswarejoints
01:28:16 | CSIRO Division of Chemical Physics laboratory general dialogue overwork in laboratory, Dr. Alan Walsh talking with staff members in laboratory,Atomic absorption apparatus being used
01:29:39 | Exterior CSIRO Division of Chemical Physics, car driving past
01:30:35 | End