Liquid sampling-atmospheric pressure glow discharge (LS-APGD) microplasma is being developed as a secondary vaporization-excitation source for the optical emission analysis of laser ablation (LA)-generated particle populations. The practicalities of this coupling are evaluated by determining the influence of source parameters on the emission response and the plasma's robustness upon LA introduction of easily ionized elements (EIEs). The influence of discharge current (45-70 mA), LA carrier gas flow rate (0.1-0.8 L min−1), and electrode separation distance (0.5-3.5 mm) was studied by measuring Cu emission lines after ablation of a brass sample. Best emission responses were observed for high-discharge currents, low He carrier gas flow rates, and relatively small (<1.5 mm) electrode gaps. Plasma robustness and spectroscopic matrix effects were studied by monitoring Mg(II) : Mg(I) intensity ratios and N2-derived plasma rotational temperatures after the ablation of Sr- and Ca-containing pellets. Plasma robustness investigations showed that the plasma is not appreciably affected by the particle loadings, with the microplasma being slightly more ionizing in the case of Ca introduction. In neither case did the concentration of the concomitant element change the robustness values, implying a high level of robustness. Introduction of the LA particles results in slight increases in the rotational temperatures (∼10% relative), with Ca-containing particles having a greater effect than Sr-containing particles. The observed variation of 9% in the plasma rotational temperature is in the same order of magnitude as the short-term reproducibility determined by the proposed LA-LS-APGD system. The determined rotational temperatures ranged from 1047 to 1212 K upon introducing various amounts of Ca and Sr. The relative immunity to LA particle-induced matrix effects is attributed to the relatively long residence times and high power densities (>10 W mm−3) of the LS-APGD microplasma.
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