Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 394(1), p. 373-382 (2009); doi:10.1007/s00216-009-2688-x
A compact magnetically boosted radiofrequency glow discharge (GD) has been designed, constructed and its analytical potential evaluated by its coupling to a mass spectrometer (MS). Simple modifications to the original source configuration permitted the insertion of permanent magnets. Small cylindrical Nd–Fe–B magnets (∅=4 mm, h=10 mm) were placed in an in-house-modified GD holder disc that allows easy and fast exchange of the magnets. The different processes taking place within the GD plasma under the influence of a magnetic field, such as sputtering, ionisation processes and ion transport into the MS, were studied using different GD operating conditions. Changes to the ionisation and ion transport efficiency caused by the magnetic field were studied using an rf-GD-TOFMS setup. A magnetic field of 60–75 gauss (G) was found not to affect the sputtering rates but to enhance the analyte ion signal intensities while decreasing the Ar species ion signals. Moreover, magnetic fields in this range were shown not to modify the crater shapes, enabling the fast and sensitive high depth resolved analysis of relatively thick coated samples (micrometre) by using the designed compact magnetically boosted rf-GD-TOFMS.