Abstract

In earlier studies, it was demonstrated that the sensitivity of absorbance detection in liquid chromatography (LC) can be improved significantly by using cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS). Thus far, CRDS experiments have been performed using visible laser light at fixed standard wavelengths, such as 532 nm. However, since by far most compounds of analytical interest absorb in the ultraviolet (UV), it is of utmost importance to develop UV-CRDS. In this study, as a first step towards the deep-UV region, LC separations with CRDS detection (using a previously described liquid-only cavity flow cell) at 457 and 355 nm are reported for standard mixtures of dyes and nitro-polyaromatic hydrocarbons (nitro-PAHs), respectively. For the measurements in the blue range a home-built optical parametric oscillator (OPO) system, tunable between 425 and 478 nm, was used, achieving a baseline noise of 2.7 × 10<sup>−6</sup> A.U. at 457 nm, improving upon the sensitivity of conventional absorbance detection (typically around 10<sup>−4</sup> A.U.). An enhancement of the sensitivity can be seen at 355 nm as well, but the improvement of the baseline noise (1.3 × 10<sup>−5</sup> A.U.) is much less pronounced. The sensitivity at 355 nm is limited by the quality of the UV-CRDS mirrors that are currently available: whereas the ring-down times as obtained at 457 nm are around 70–80 ns for the eluent, they are only 20–25 ns at 355 nm. Critical laser characteristics for LC-CRDS measurements, such as pulse length and mode structure, are given and prospects for going to shorter wavelengths are discussed.

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