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Investigation into the Operating Characteristics of a "Microarc" Atmospheric-pressure Glow Discharge

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Abstract:

Details of the processes occurring during sample atomization from a "microarc" discharge have been studied photometrically, by use of high-speed color cinematography and through current-voltage waveforms. The microarc studied here is an atmospheric-pressure inert-gas glow discharge supported between 0.25 mm diameter tungsten wires; quiescent argon-1% H2 provides reactive-sputtering conditions and improved behavior in the presence of oxygen impurities. Excitation temperatures of ca. 5000°K are measured for the argon glow. Samples of Na, Al, and Sr illustrate the influence of volatile, refractory, insulating, and electron-emitting sample properties on the temporal-spatial-electrical behavior of the discharge. The step-by-step events occurring in the discharge are described qualitatively and a variety of processes are invoked to explain sample volatilization, including sputtering, chemical reactions, and purely thermal effects. In the first stages of the discharge, instabilities are related to the placement and insulating character of deposits. With heating, electron emission becomes important in directing the discharge to or away from the sample; abnormal glow wandering and glow-to-arc transitions can ensue. Improved stability is achieved by uniformly depositing multi-element samples along the electrode, which localizes the initial discharge and promotes ablative cooling of the sample and electrode.

Keywords: Atomization; Glow discharge; Microarc; Multi-element analysis

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1366/0003702794925840

Affiliations: 1: Department of Chemistry, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, Livermore, California 94550 2: Department of Chemistry, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, Livermore, California 94550; permanent address: Department of Chemistry, Pacific Lutheran University Tacoma, WA 98447 3: Department of Chemistry, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, Livermore, California 94550; permanent address: Department of Chemistry, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47401

Publication date: May 1, 1979

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