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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Rational development of the solvent loaded, inductively coupled argon plasma Weir, Douglas Glenn John


In routine trace metal analysis, the inductively coupled argon plasma (ICAP) converts analyte into atoms and atomic ions, then excites them to emit intense, characteristic line spectra. But none of the spectrochemical techniques based on the ICAP are free from interference effects. This dissertation focuses on only one source of interference effects: the solvent plasma load associated with injecting sample solution into the discharge as an aerosol mist. This dissertation reveals several physical phenomena that are responsible for both the spectral and nonspectral interference effects associated with solvent plasma loading, physical phenomena that are spatially, temporally and parametrically complex. In order to address that complexity, a strategy was proposed for characterizing and developing electrical gas discharges for spectrochemical analysis. The strategy consisted of three steps which are not strictly sequential. Step one: systematically survey the parametric, spatial and temporal complexity of analyte and background emission (Chapters 3-6); Step two: drawing guidelines from step one, characterize the physical properties of the discharge (Chapters 7-9); Step three: Improve the design and methodology of the spectrochemical method based on the insight gained in the first two steps. The first two steps proved to be very effective, but the third step remains untested.

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