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Development of a high-resolution laser absorption spectroscopy method with application to the determination of absolute concentration of gaseous elemental mercury in air



Abneesh Srivastava, Joseph T. Hodges


Isotope dilution cold-vapor inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ID-CV-ICPMS) has become the primary standard for measurement of gaseous elemental mercury (GEM) mass concentration. However, quantitative mass spectrometry is challenging for several reasons including: (1) the need for isotopic spiking with a standard reference material, (2) the requirement for bias-free passive sampling protocols, (3) the need for stable mass spectrometry interface design, and (4) the time and cost involved for gas sampling, sample processing and instrument calibration. Here, we introduce a high-resolution laser absorption spectroscopy method that eliminates the need for sample-specific calibration standards or detailed analysis of sample treatment losses. This technique involves a tunable, single-frequency laser absorption spectrometer that measures isotopically resolved spectra of elemental mercury (Hg) spectra of 6 1S0  6 3P1 intercombination transition near = 253.7 nm. Measured spectra are accurately modeled from first principles using the Beer-Lambert law and Voigt line profiles combined with literature values for line positions, line shape parameters, and the spontaneous emission Einstein coefficient to obtain GEM mass concentration values. We present application of this method for the measurement of the equilibrium concentration of mercury vapor near room temperature. Three closed systems are considered: two-phase mixtures of liquid Hg and its vapor, and binary two-phase mixtures of Hg-Air and Hg-N2 near atmospheric pressure. Within the experimental relative standard uncertainty (0.9-1.5) % congruent values of the equilibrium Hg vapor concentration are obtained for the Hg-only, Hg-Air, Hg-N2 systems; in confirmation with thermodynamic predictions. We also discuss detection limits and the potential of the present technique to serve as an absolute primary standard for measurements of gas-phase mercury concentration and isotopic composition.
Analytical Chemistry


Mercury, Laser Absorption Spectroscopy, Standard Generator, SI traceability, Dumarey equation, vapor pressure correlation, saturation, detection limit, isotope ratio Dumarey equation, vapor pressure correlation, saturation.
Created April 30, 2018, Updated November 10, 2018