Laser-excited atomic fluorescence and ionization in a graphite furnace for the determination of metals and nonmetals

Date of Completion

January 1990


Chemistry, Analytical|Physics, Atomic




Here is reported novel instrumentation for atomic spectrometry that combined the use of a pulsed laser system as the light source and an electrothermal atomizer as the atom cell. The main goal of the research was to develop instrumentation that was more sensitive for elemental analysis than commercially available instruments and could be used to determine elements in real sample matrices. Laser excited atomic fluorescence spectrometry (LEAFS) in an electrothermal atomizer (ETA) was compared to ETA atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS) for the determination of thallium, manganese, and lead in food and agricultural standard reference materials (SRMs). Compared to ETA AAS, ETA LEAFS has a longer linear dynamic range (LDR) (5-7 orders of magnitude compared to 2-3 orders of magnitude) and higher sensitivity (10$\sp{-16}$ to 10$\sp{-14}$ g as compared to 10$\sp{-13}$ to 10$\sp{-11}$ g). Consequently, ETA LEAFS allows elemental analysis to be done over a wider range of concentrations with less dilution steps. Thallium was accurately determined in biological samples by ETA LEAFS at amounts five to one hundred times below the ETA AAS detection limit. ETA AAS and ETA LEAFS were compared for the determination of lead and manganese, and in general, the accuracies and precisions of ETA AAS were the same, with typical precisions between 3% and 6%.^ Fluorine was determined using laser excited molecular fluorescence spectrometry (LEMOFS) in an ETA. Molecular fluorescence from magnesium fluoride was collected, and the detection limit of 0.3 pg fluorine was two to six orders of magnitude more sensitive than other methods commonly used for the determination of fluorine. Significant interferences from ions were observed, but the sensitivity was high enough that fluorine could be determined in freeze dried urine SRMs by diluting the samples by a factor of one hundred to remove the interferences.^ Laser enhanced ionization (LEI) in an ETA was used for the determination of metals. For thallium, indium, and lithium, detection limits between 0.7 and 2 pg were obtained, with an LDR of 3.5 orders of magnitude. Sodium was shown to severely depress the indium LEI signal in an ETA. ^