Cavity Ringdown Measurements of Mercury and Its Hyperfine Structures at 254 nm In an Atmospheric Microwave Plasma: Spectral Interference and Analytical Performance

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Physics and Astronomy


Mathematics and Natural Sciences


The plasma-cavity ringdown spectroscopic (Plasma-CRDS) technique has been demonstrated as a powerful tool for elemental and isotopic measurements in recent studies. This work reports the first application of plasma-CRDS to measurements of elemental mercury and its stable isotopes at the 254 nm transition under atmospheric conditions. A microwave-induced plasma (MIP) operating at 80–100 W is used to generate Hg atoms from standard HgCl2 solutions diluted by 2% nitric acid solvent. It is found that a background absorption, attributed to the overlap of two broadened rovibrational transitions R21(21) and P1(15) of the OH A-X (3-0) band located at 253.65 nm, generates significant spectral interference with the absorption peak of Hg at 254 nm. With an optimized operating condition, including plasma powers, gas flow rates, and laser beam positions in the plasma, the detection sensitivity of Hg is determined to be 9.1 ng ml−1 in aqueous solution, equivalently 221 pptv in the gas phase; this detection limit is approximately 2-fold higher than the theoretical detection limit, 126 pptv, which was estimated by using the parameters of the instrument system and the calculated absorption cross-section, 2.64 × 10−14 cm2 atom−1, of the transition under atmospheric plasma conditions. High-resolution spectral scans show a clear contour of the stable isotopes of the 254 nm transition. The technical challenges encountered and the potential for further development of the Hg analyzer using the MIP-CRDS technique are discussed.

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Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry





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