The effects of oxygen on the detection of mercury using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy

R. L. Gleason, D. W. Hahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


A systematic study of the processes associated with mercury atomic emission in a laser-induced plasma and the interactions of mercury with oxygen species is presented. At early plasma decay times, on the order of 5-10 μs, no significant variation in mercury atomic emission was observed with the addition of oxygen-containing species. At intermediate and long decay times 10-100 μs, a significant reduction in the 253.7-nm mercury emission intensity was recorded with the introduction of oxygen-containing species. The decrease in mercury emission was temporally coincident with the recombination of atomic oxygen, as measured by the O(I) emission. The decreased mercury emission was not due to thermal effects, based on plasma temperature measurements, and was independent of the molecular source of oxygen, for similar concentrations of oxygen as air, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide. Analysis of additional mercury atomic emission lines revealed that the reduction in mercury emission in the presence of oxygen species is limited primarily to the 253.7-nm transition. In concert, the data lead to the conclusion that the 253.7-nm mercury emission line is selectively quenched by oxygen species, primarily O2 and NO, that are formed during the plasma recombination process. Implications for laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy-based emissions monitoring of mercury species are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-430
Number of pages12
JournalSpectrochimica Acta - Part B Atomic Spectroscopy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 30 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Emissions monitoring
  • Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy
  • Mercury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Spectroscopy


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