A novel atomic emission spectrometry comprising laser ablation as a sampling source and hollow cathode plasma for the excitation of ablated sample atoms is proposed. In this arrangement, a conventional Grimm-type discharge lamp is employed, but the polarity of the power supply is reversed so that the cylindrical hollow tube acts as a cathode and the glow discharge plasma is produced within this tube. A laser is irradiated to introduce sample atoms into the discharge plasma. Ablated atoms are excited by collisions with electrons and gas species, and emit characteristic radiation upon deexcitation. The experiments were conducted only in an atmosphere of helium gas so as to avoid a rapid erosion of the cathode hollow tube. Phase-sensitive detection with a lock-in amplifier was utilized to reject the continuous background emission of the plasma gas and emissions of sputtered atoms from the tube material. The unique feature of this technique is that the sampling and excitation processes can be controlled independently. The proposed technique was employed for the determination of Cr, Mn, and Ni in low-alloyed steel samples. The obtained concentrations are in good agreement with the reported values. The relative standard deviation (RSD), a measure of the analytical precision, was estimated to be 2-9% for Cr, 3-4% for Mn, and 4-11% for Ni determination.
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