The spatial distribution of radiant intensity from hollow cathode lamps used as radiation sources in atomic absorption spectrometry is investigated with a digital photodiode array imaging system. Intensity distribution over the cross section of each lamp is measured for both atomic and ionic lines of the analyte and the filler gas. The shape of the distribution is strongly dependent on the hollow cathode diameter. In small cathodes the distribution has the shape of a paraboloid with maximum intensity at the hollow cathode axis for all of the recorded lines. The intensity distributions of lines emitted from large cathodes are nonparaboloid and in some cases have a minimum at the cathode axis and a maximum concentric to the cathode walls. It is shown that the intensity distribution for a given lamp has practically the same shape for all currents applied. Data on the evolution of the intensity distribution during warm-up of the lamps and under various operating conditions are presented.

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