Analytical Chemistry, 81(7), p. 2591-2599 (2009); doi:10.1021/ac802520q
A microsecond-pulsed direct current glow discharge (GD) was interfaced and synchronized to a time-of-flight mass spectrometer MS(TOF) for time-gated generation and detection of elemental, structural, and molecular ions. In this way, sequential collection of the mass spectra at different temporal regimes occurring during the GD pulse cycle is allowed. The capabilities of this setup were explored using bromochloromethane as model analyte. A simple GD chamber, developed in our laboratory and characterized by a low plasma volume minimizing dilution of the sample but showing great robustness to the entrance of organic compounds in the microsecond-pulsed plasma, has been used. An exhaustive analytical characterization of the GD-MS(TOF) prototype has been performed. Calibration curves for bromochloromethane observed at the different time regimes of the GD pulse cycle (that is, for elemental, fragment, and molecular ions from the analyte) showed very good linearity for the measurement of the different involved ions, with precisions in the range of 7−13% (relative standard deviation). Actual detection limits obtained for bromochloromethane were in the range of 1−3 μg/L for elements monitoring in the GD pulse “prepeak”, in the range of 11−13 μg/L when monitoring analyte fragments in the plateau, and about 238 μg/L when measuring the molecular peak in the afterpeak regime.