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Abstract by Wade Ellis

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Presenter's Name

Wade Ellis

Degree Level


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Chemistry and Biochemistry

Faculty Advisor

Paul Farnsworth


Rapid Solid Metal Elemental Analysis using Ambient Plasma Discharges


Current methods for performing elemental analysis of solid metal samples include Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma (LA-ICP) and Glow Discharges (GD) coupled either to optical emission detectors or mass spectrometers.  Although effective, these methods have some significant limitations.  For laser ablation systems, a high power laser system is required.  For most glow discharge systems, the sample is required to be under vacuum.  We are exploring a simpler, faster way to perform these analyses using atmospheric-pressure noble gas discharges.  In one configuration the discharge forms in hydrogen-doped argon between a high voltage tungsten pin and the grounded metal sample.  In another configuration a dielectric barrier discharge is formed in a fused silica capillary in helium. In both cases, the plasma causes the removal and ionization of metal atoms.  The ions can then be directly analyzed by a mass spectrometer.  However, the resulting mass spectra indicate that the metal ions form adducts with water and ammonia from the discharge.  To break up adduct ions, the ions have been introduced into an inductively coupled plasma and detected with a mass spectrometer.