A spectrochemical source for optical emission spectrometry, based on an atmospheric-sampling glow discharge, is described. Operating parameters that affect the performance of the glow discharge are investigated; the most important is the source pressure. Helium and argon are studied as plasma support gases. Simple to build and operate, the glow discharge is fairly robust to introduced organic vapors and produces equivalent signals from carbon-containing species regardless of the original molecular form of the carbon.

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