The carbon flame method, developed 10 years ago, has been remarkably improved in recent years. It is, however, not an universal method, for it does not work at highest temperatures, and it fails in some cases of chemical interference between carbon and sample. Nevertheless, its applicability and usefulness are considerable. Six advantages may be mentioned.
- 1. The arrangement of apparatus is rather simple and always ready for service.
- 2. The extraordinary intensity of the flame secures short exposures (10–30 sec) for spectra which fade away quickly.
- 3. The method gives band spectra which are nearly free of atomic lines.
- 4. The method permits one to distinguish between arc and spark lines, and the bands can be tested for sensitivity to temperature.
- 5. Since the excitation potential of the carbon flame lies between those of the electric arc and the ordinary gas flame, new bands important for molecular chemistry and for the interpretation of stellar spectra, sometimes appear in the carbon flame spectrum.
- 6. The flame method, though chiefly suited for oxide spectra, is not at all limited to this type of spectra. Spectra of fluorides, bromides, chlorides, and iodides turn out very well, as may be seen in the SrCl spectrum. By using the proper atmospheres in the excitation process, it is hoped to get beautiful spectra of nitrides, hydrides, etc. These most promising experiments will be an interesting part of our Atlas program.
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