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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Development and characterization of atmospheric pressure radio frequency capacitively coupled plasmas for analytical spectroscopy Liang, Dong Cuan


An atmospheric pressure radio frequency capacitively coupled plasma (CCP) has been developed and characterized for applications in atomic emission spectrometry (AES), atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS) and gas chromatography (GC). The CCP torch was initially designed as an atom reservoir for carrying out elemental analysis using atomic absorption. Functionally, the device consists of two parts, the CCP discharge tube and the tantalum strip electrothermal vaporization sample introduction system. The torch design provides for very effective energy transfer from the power supply to the plasma by capacitive coupling. Therefore, the plasma can be generated at atmospheric pressure with a flexible geometry. The plasma can be operated at very low rf input powers (30-600 W) enabling optimal conditions for atom resonance line absorption measurements. Absorption by the analyte takes place within the plasma discharge which is characterized by a long path length (20 cm) and low support gas flow rate (0.2 L/Min). Both of these characteristics ensure a relatively long residence time. The device exhibits linear calibration plots and provides sensitivities in the range of 3.5-40 pg. A preliminary measurement gave a Fe I excitation temperature of approximately 4000 K for the discharge. At this temperature, potential chemical interferences are likely to be minimal. Chemical interferences for Fe, Al, As, Ca, Co, Cd, Li, Mo and Sr were negligible in the determination of silver. Chloride interference, which is prevalent in GF-AAS, was not found. The amount of Ag found in a SMR#1643b (NIST) water sample was 9.5 ± 0.5 ng/g which fell in the certified range of 9.8 ± 0.8 ng/g. Spikes of 30 ng/g and 60 ng/g of silver were added to the SRM and recoveries were found to be in a range from 105 % to 96.2 %. The RSD obtained for 7 replicates of 270 pg silver was 4.6 %. The results for the CCP AES are even more promising. The interferences of thirteen elements are negligible in the determination of silver. The chloride interference was not found. The detection limits for Ag, Cd, Li, Sb and B are 0.7, 0.7, 2, 80 and 400 pg respectively. The amount of silver found in a SRM#1643b (NIST) water sample was 9.3 ± 0.5 ng/g which also fell in the certified range of 9.8 ±0.8 ng/g. Spikes of 30 ng/g and 60 ng/g of silver were added into the SRM#1643b (NIST) samples; the recoveries were found to range from 97 % to 104 %. The RSD obtained for 7 analyses of 270 pg silver were 1.5 % for CCP-AES. It was also found that the signal to noise ratios (S/N) are higher in the AES mode than those in the AAS mode in the same CCP atomizer. In order to exploit advantages inherent in both GF-AAS and I CP-AES, an atmospheric pressure capacitively coupled plasma sustained inside a graphite furnace was developed. This source combines the high efficiency of atomization in furnaces and the high efficiency of the excitation in atmospheric pressure plasmas. In general, plasma sources are able to effectively excite high-lying excited states for most metals and non-metals and can also ionize vaporized elements. Therefore the possibility exists of using non-resonance lines to avoid the effects of self-absorption at high analyte concentrations. Ion lines may also be used in cases where they provide better sensitivity or freedom from spectral interferences. This source also offers the ability to independently optimize vaporization and excitation. However, the most important aspect of this new source is that it can be used for simultaneous, multielement determinations of small sized samples in a graphite furnace atomizer, a design which has been proven to be effective over many years of use. Preliminary quantitative characteristics of this new atmospheric pressure plasma emission source have been studied. The detection limit for Ag of 0.3 pg is lower than the value of 0.4 pg reported for GF-AAS. Variants of the CCP, including a gas chromatography (GC) detector, combinations of laser ablation - CCP, rf sputtering - CCP direct solid analysis, and its application as an intense spectral lamp have been developed and are reported in this dissertation.

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