Chlorine isotope determination via the monitoring of the AlCl molecule by high-resolution continuum source graphite furnace molecular absorption spectrometry – a case study
This work investigates the possibility of obtaining isotopic information via the monitoring of the absorption spectra of a gaseous diatomic molecule generated in a graphite furnace and using a high-resolution (approx. 1.5 pm per pixel) monochromator (HR CS GFMAS). To test this concept, Cl was chosen as the analyte and AlCl as the target species. The results demonstrate that, unlike what occurs with atomic spectra, under optimum conditions it is possible to acquire isotopic information by HR CS GFMAS in a straightforward way, as it is feasible to observe band heads for each Cl isotope (actually, for Al35Cl and Al37Cl) that are separated, i.e., they act like two different molecules absorbing at different wavelengths. The method proposed, based upon the addition of both Pd and Al and the selection of peak height values, enables Cl isotopic analysis with precision values around 2% RSD for solutions with Cl contents at the mg L−1 level. Accurate values, within this uncertainty, can be directly obtained without requiring any method for mass bias correction. The potential of isotope dilution for calibration is also explored, and it is proven how this approach can help in providing accurate results in situations where the occurrence of chemical interferences, a case frequently encountered for the HR CS GFMAS technique, hampers the use of other calibration approaches, as demonstrated for water analysis.