Multielement trace analysis of pure graphite powders using optical emission spectrometry coupled to a magnetically stabilized DC arc supplied with halogenating gases as chemical modifiers – a rapid and robust methodology†‡
A magnetically stabilized DC arc device, designed for operation with OES spectrometers was used to determine the elements Ag, Al, B, Ba, Be, Ca, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Ga, In, K, Li, Mg, Mn, Mo, Na, Nb, Ni, Si, Sn, Sr, Ti, V, Zr at trace levels of some μg kg−1 up to some 10 mg kg−1 in graphite powders. The coil for the generation of the homogeneous magnetic field was placed outside the closed arc chamber. The time programs of variable current strengths of the magnetic coil (up to 6 A) and of the arc (up to 17 A) which was burning in air were computer controlled. Halogenating gases (mainly CCl2F2, alternatively SF6 and NF3) were used as chemical modifiers to allow an effective release of the carbide forming trace elements. The mass flow controlled modifier gas was led through a special carrier electrode near the arc plasma. The emission radiation was guided by an optical fiber alternatively into two different ICP spectrometers in which the ICP torches were removed. The synergistic interaction of the magnetic field with the halogenating modifier gases resulted in a significant improvement in the analytical performance of the optimized analytical method. All our results for 22 trace elements were in good agreement with the means of an inter-laboratory comparison by BAM for certification of a pure graphite powder material; this holds also for our results for two other graphite materials. The optimized method showed an analytical performance suitable for comprehensive trace analysis of pure graphite. The instrumentation could be integrated into modern DC arc emission spectrometers to improve their analytical capabilities substantially.