Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 9, 22143-22175, 2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ACP.
Toward a real-time measurement of atmospheric mercury concentrations using cavity ring-down spectroscopy
X. Faïn, H. Moosmüller, and D. Obrist
Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Desert Research Institute, 2215 Raggio Parkway, Reno, NV 89512, USA

Abstract. A new sensor based on cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS) has been developed for the measurement of gaseous elemental mercury (Hg0) mass concentration with sub-ng m−3 detection limit and high temporal resolution. Cavity ring-down spectroscopy is a direct absorption technique that utilizes path lengths of up to multiple kilometers in a compact absorption cell and has a significantly higher sensitivity than conventional absorption spectroscopy. Our prototype uses a frequency-doubled, tuneable dye laser emitting pulses at ~253.65 nm with a pulse repetition frequency of 50 Hz. The dye laser incorporates a unique piezo element attached to its tuning grating allowing it to tune the laser on and off the Hg0 absorption line on a pulse to pulse basis to facilitate differential absorption measurements. Hg0 absorption measurements with this CRDS laboratory prototype are highly linearly related to Hg0 concentrations determined by a Tekran 2537B analyzer over a Hg0 concentration range of four orders of magnitude, from 0.2 ng m−3 to 573 ng m−3 implying excellent linearity of both instruments. The current CRDS instrument has a~sensitivity of 0.10 ng m−3 at 10 s time resolution. This tool opens new prospects for the study of Hg0 because of its high temporal resolution and reduced limited sample volume requirements (<0.5 l of sample air). Future applications may include ambient Hg0 flux measurements with eddy covariance techniques, which require measurements of Hg0 concentrations with sub-ng m−3 sensitivity and sub-second time resolution.

Citation: Faïn, X., Moosmüller, H., and Obrist, D.: Toward a real-time measurement of atmospheric mercury concentrations using cavity ring-down spectroscopy, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 9, 22143-22175, doi:10.5194/acpd-9-22143-2009, 2009.
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