A de-powered, double-gap, miniature nanosecond spark source for emission spectrochemical analysis of gas chromatographic effluents is described. The spark is formed between two thoriated tungsten electrodes by the discharge of a coaxial capacitor. The spark detector is coupled to the gas chromatograph by a heated transfer line. The gas chromatographic effluent is introduced into the heated spark chamber where atomization and excitation of the effluent occurs upon breakdown of the analytical gap. A microcomputer-controlled data acquisition system allows the implementation of time-resolution techniques to distinguish between the analyte emission and the background continuum produced by the spark discharge. Multiple sparks are computer averaged to improve the signal-to-noise ratio. The application of the spark detector for element-selective detection of metals and nonmetals is reported.

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