Enhancement of intensities in glow discharge mass spectrometry by using mixtures of argon and helium as plasma gases

Lange, Britta; Matschat, Ralf; Kipphardt, Heinrich
December 2007
Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry;Dec2007, Vol. 389 Issue 7/8, p2287
Academic Journal
Glow discharge mass spectrometry (GD-MS) is an excellent technique for fast multi-element analysis of pure metals. In addition to metallic impurities, non-metals also can be determined. However, the sensitivity for these elements can be limited due to their high first ionization potentials. Elements with a first ionization potential close to or higher than that of argon, which is commonly used as discharge gas in GD-MS analysis, are ionized with small efficiency only. To improve the sensitivity of GD-MS for such elements, the influence of different glow-discharge parameters on the peak intensity of carbon, chlorine, fluorine, nitrogen, phosphorus, oxygen, and sulfur in pure copper samples was investigated with an Element GD (Thermo Fisher Scientific) GD-MS. Discharge current, discharge gas flow, and discharge gas composition, the last of which turned out to have the greatest effect on the measured intensities, were varied. Argon–helium mixtures were used because of the very high potential of He to ionize other elements, especially in terms of the high energy level of its metastable states. The effect of different Ar–He compositions on the peak intensity of various impurities in pure copper was studied. With Ar–He mixtures, excellent signal enhancements were achieved in comparison with use of pure Ar as discharge gas. In this way, traceable linear calibration curves for phosphorus and sulfur down to the μg kg−1 range could be established with high sensitivity and very good linearity using pressed powder samples for calibration. This was not possible when pure argon alone was used as discharge gas.


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