A novel, compact He-Ne laser intracavity photothermal beam deflection densitometer has been developed. In this instrument, a TLC plate is placed inside the cavity of the He-Ne laser, which serves as a probe. An argon-ion pump-laser overlaps with the probe beam at the chromatogram spot. The apparatus is 34 times more sensitive than the corresponding extracavity instrument. The technique not only was able to detect bilirubin, bilirubin ditauride, and half-bilirubin on a developed HPTLC but also provided insight into the photophysical processes of those pigments. The detection limit for bilirubin, excited by the 476-nm laser line, at 20 mW intensity, modulated at 7 Hz, is 2.5 ng.

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