Analytical Sciences

Abstract − Analytical Sciences, 32(2), 177 (2016).

Pulsed Discharge Helium Ionization Detector for Highly Sensitive Aquametry
Curtis D. MOWRY,* Adam S. PIMENTEL,* Elizabeth S. SPARKS,* Matthew W. MOORMAN,** Komandoor E. ACHYUTHAN,** and Ronald P. MANGINELL**
*Materials Characterization Department, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM 87185, USA
**Bio/Chem/Physical Microsensors Department, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM 87185, USA
Trace moisture quantitation is crucial in medical, civilian and military applications. Current aquametry technologies are limited by the sample volume, reactivity, or interferences, and/or instrument size, weight, power, cost, and complexity. We report for the first time on the use of a pulsed discharge helium ionization detector (PDHID-D2) (∼196 cm3) for the sensitive (limit of detection, 0.047 ng; 26 ppm), linear (r2 >0.99), and rapid (< 2 min) quantitation of water using a small (0.2 – 5.0 μL) volume of liquid or gas. The relative humidity sensitivity was 0.22% (61.4 ppmv) with a limit of detection of less than 1 ng moisture with gaseous samples. The sensitivity was 10 to 100 to fold superior to competing technologies without the disadvantages inherent to these technologies. The PDHID-D2, due to its small footprint and low power requirement, has good size, weight, and power-portability (SWAPP) factors. The relatively low cost (∼$5000) and commercial availability of the PDHID-D2 makes our technique applicable to highly sensitive aquametry.