Standard addition

Standard addition

The method of standard addition is used in instrumental analysis to determine concentration of a substance (analyte) in an unknown sample by comparison to a set of samples of known concentration, similar to using a calibration curve. Standard addition can be applied to most analytical techniques and is used instead of a calibration curve to solve the matrix effect problem.


Standard addition is frequently used in atomic absorption spectroscopy and gas chromatography.

The matrix effect problem occurs when the unknown sample contains many impurities. If impurities present in the unknown interact with the analyte to change the instrumental response or themselves produce an instrumental response, then a calibration curve based on pure analyte samples will give an incorrect determination.

One way to solve this problem is to use standard addition. The standard solution (solution of known concentration of analyte) is added to the unknown solution so any impurities in the unknown are accounted for in the calibration. The operator does not know how much was in the solution initially but does know how much standard solution was added, and knows how the readings changed before and after adding the standard solution. Thus, the operator can "extrapolate" and determine the concentration initially in the unknown solution. In practice, the volume of standard solution added is kept small to avoid dilution of the unknown impurities.


*cite book
last = Harris
first = Daniel C.
authorlink =
coauthors =
year = 2003
title = Quantitative Chemical Analysis 6th Edition
publisher = W.H. Freeman
location = New York
id =

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