American Chemical Society
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“Insert-and-Go” Activated Carbon Electrode Tip for Heavy Metal Capture and In Situ Analysis by Microplasma Optical Emission Spectrometry

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-04-07, 09:13 authored by Shuang Liu, Xin-Xin Xue, Yong-Liang Yu, Jian-Hua Wang
The miniaturized optical emission spectrometry (OES) devices based on various microplasma excitation sources provide reliable tools for on-site analysis of heavy metal pollution, while the development of convenient and efficient sample introduction approaches is essential to improve their performances for field analysis. Herein, a small activated carbon electrode tip is employed as solid support to preconcentrate heavy metals in water and subsequently served as an inner electrode of the coaxial dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) to generate microplasma. In this case, heavy metal analytes in water are first adsorbed on the surface of the activated carbon electrode tip via a simple liquid–solid phase transformation during the sample loading process, and then, fast released to produce OES during the DBD microplasma excitation process. The corresponding OES signals are synchronously recorded by a charge-coupled device (CCD) spectrometer for quantitative analysis. This activated carbon electrode tip provides a new tool for sample introduction into the DBD microplasma and facilitates “insert-and-go” in subsequent DBD-OES analysis. With a multiplexed activated carbon electrode tip array, a batch of water samples (50 mL) can be loaded in parallel within 5 min. After drying the activated carbon electrode tips for 5 min, the DBD-OES analysis is maintained at a rate of 6 s per sample. Under the optimized conditions, the detection limits of 0.03 and 0.6 μg L–1 are obtained for Cd and Pb, respectively. The accuracy and practicability of the present DBD-OES system have been verified by measuring several certified reference materials and real water samples. This analytical strategy not only simplifies the sample pretreatment steps but also significantly improves the sensitivity of the DBD-OES system for heavy metal detection. By virtue of the advantages of high sensitivity, fast analysis speed, simple operation, low cost, and favorable portability, the upgraded DBD-OES system provides a more powerful tool for on-site analysis of heavy metal pollution.