Direct solution analysis by glow discharge: Electrolyte-cathode discharge spectrometry

Tamas Cserfalvi, Pal Mezei

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142 Citations (Scopus)


A new glow discharge atomic emission source was developed for the direct determination of metals in aqueous solutions by applying an atmospheric glow discharge in the air gap (2-6 mm) between an electrolyte solution cathode and a W-rod anode. Cathode sputtering of the solution surface and subsequent excitations occur when the pH of the solution is below 2.5. The spectrum emitted contains the basic atomic lines of the dissolved metals from K 769.9 to Zn 213.8 nm, ion lines of Mg and Ca and strong OH, NH and N2 bands. Boiling of the cathode pole can be avoided by use of a flow-through technique. The electron temperature was found to be around 5000 K. The calibration curves of line intensities versus metal concentrations were linear in the 1-50 ppm range and showed strong positive dependence on the discharge current and on the hydrogen ion concentration of the solution. Pulse modulated operation with time-resolved signal processing promises a substantial increase in the signal-to-background ratio. The flow-through electrolyte acts as a continuously renewed cathode pole, thereby enabling the continuous direct multi-metal assay of solutions. This report is the first discussion on the analytical characteristics of electrolyte-cathode discharge (ELCAD). spectrometry as a new technique for metal monitoring in aqueous solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-349
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of analytical atomic spectrometry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1994


  • Direct analysis
  • Electrolyte-cathode discharge emission spectrometry
  • Metals
  • Water analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy

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