Detection of negative ions in glow discharge mass spectrometry for analysis of solid specimens

Stela Canulescu, Igor S. Molchan, C. Tauziede, Agnes Tempez, J. A. Whitby, George E. Thompson, Peter Skeldon, P Chapon, Johann Michler

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A new method is presented for elemental and molecular analysis of halogen-containing samples by glow discharge time-of-flight mass spectrometry, consisting of detection of negative ions from a pulsed RF glow discharge in argon. Analyte signals are mainly extracted from the afterglow regime of the discharge, where the cross section for electron attachment increases. The formation of negative ions from sputtering of metals and metal oxides is compared with that for positive ions. It is shown that the negative ion signals of F(-) and TaO(2)F(-) are enhanced relative to positive ion signals and can be used to study the distribution of a tantalum fluoride layer within the anodized tantala layer. Further, comparison is made with data obtained using glow-discharge optical emission spectroscopy, where elemental fluorine can only be detected using a neon plasma. The ionization mechanisms responsible for the formation of negative ions in glow discharge time-of-flight mass spectrometry are briefly discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)2871-2879
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Mass spectrometry/ICP-MS
  • Pulsed discharge
  • Fluorine ions
  • RF glow discharge mass spectrometry
  • Anodic tantala
  • Thin films
  • Negative ions


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