Effect of aging the hollow cathode by sputtering on the analytical precision of the hollow cathode discharge emission source


Sputtering changes the analytical performance of the hollow cathode as an emission source. Proper conditioning (aging) of the hollow with sputtering greatly improves precision. Conditioning decreases the blank emission signal and changes the shape of the hollow. Micrographs which show the evolution of the bottom of the hollow into a stable bulb shape are presented. The blank emission signal decreases with aging of the hollow and approaches a constant value when the hollow is properly conditioned. A short-term stability (n = 5) of ∼1.8% RSD has been observed frequently. An average long-term stability over several days (n = 45) of 4.5% for Li and 3.5% for Na in the emission signal from microsamples (<50 nL) deposited in the hollow cathode discharge source is reported here. Instrumentation, operation, and sample preparation procedures are described.

Publication Title

Analytical Chemistry