Spark Optical Emission Spectrometry (F-OES)

Optical emission spectrometry OES permits a very accurate analysis of metallic materials with a high detection limit, whereby the characteristic is used that each element or its ions emits a specific light spectrum with the corresponding amplification.

This necessitates the atoms initially being converted to an ionized state. In the event of spark excitation and via pulsed spark discharges, a small quantity of metal is initially melted, evaporated, atomized, and finally ionized at the surface.

The light emitted by the sample travels through a diffraction grid and complex optics to a CCD line where it is analyzed and evaluated. Quantification is on the basis of calibration lines. This means that calibration must be in place for the materials to be examined.

In the analysis of metallic materials, spark OES is superior to other, often significantly more expensive methods in several respects. Thanks to the relatively large focal spot (diameter 5–8 mm), this method is very integral and resistant to structural inhomogeneities, such as deposits. The detection limit is much lower than for EDX, for example. Important elements such as carbon and nitrogen in steel can therefore be determined more accurately. Furthermore, sample preparation is conceivably simple by means of sample overlapping.

Your Advantage

We not only measure the material composition for you. You always benefit from the expertise of experienced metallographers and material scientists. And your particular problem can make it necessary to carry out more detailed tests, such as REM/EDX, TOF-SIMS , XPS , FT-IR, or ICP-MS. We offer all of these Methods as a package from a single source.

Our Services

  • Swift and precise analysis of ferrous and non-ferrous metals:
    • Iron based: low-alloy steel, Cr-Cr/Ni steel, … including nitrogen determination for unambiguous determination of duplex steels
    • Aluminum-based: pure aluminum, wrought and cast alloys (e.g. AlSi, AlMg)
    • Copper-based: pure copper, brass, bronze
    • Nickel-based: pure nickel, nickel alloys (e.g. Hastelloy, Inconel)
    • Titanium-based: pure titanium (ASTM Grades 1 to 4) and titanium alloys such as Ti6Al4V (Grade 5)


The very extensive material database comprising international standards permits a measured composition to be allocated exactly to a certain material.

Mechanical and plant engineering

  • Steel grade determination
  • Alloy determination / Examining deviations from the target composition: high- and low-alloyed steels, aluminum alloys, brass, bronze, Ni-based alloys
  • Determination of the carbon content of low-alloyed steels, hardenability
  • Failure and damage analysis, e.g. contact corrosion due to unsuitable material combinations, welding errors, mechanical failure

Medical technology

  • Examination of implant materials, e.g. titanium alloys
  • Wires: special wire attachment allows the examination of wires up to 2.5 mm

Sample Requirements

  • Planar samples with an area of 10 mm
  • Small-parts adapter for sample areas of min. 5 mm diameter
  • Attachment for wires of min. 3 mm diameter
  • Minimum thickness of 2 mm, depending on the material


  • Concentration range of approx. 50 μg/g (ppm) to 100 wt.%
  • Special detection limits are dependent on the sample matrix and material

Standard Excerpt

Based on:

ASTM E 415a
Optical emission spectral analysis under vacuum of unalloyed and low-alloyed steel
ASTM E 1999
Standard test method for analysis of cast iron using optical emission spectrometry
DIN EN 14726
Aluminum and aluminum alloys – Determination of the chemical composition of aluminum and aluminum alloys by spark optical emission spectrometry
DIN EN 15079
Copper and copper alloys – Analysis by spark optical emission spectrometry (F-OES)


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