Sonoluminescence for the quantitative analysis of alkali and alkaline earth chlorides
Robinson, Alex Lockwood
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The use of sonoluminescence for quantitative analysis is demonstrated with possible applications for on-line process measurement. When acoustic energy of sufficiently high intensity is applied to a liquid, microscopic bubbles are generated at weak points in the liquid. These bubbles oscillate non-linearly in the acoustic field, collapsing violently during the compressive phase in a process known as cavitation. Under the right conditions, a subset of the cavitating bubbles emits weak, broadband light, known as sonoluminescence. When certain species are present in a sonoluminescing system, such as alkali and alkaline earth metals, they emit spectral lines characteristic of their lowest energy neutral excited states. By measuring the intensity and spectral distribution of this radiation, these species may be identified and quantified over a wide range of concentrations. Data is presented from solutions of sodium, potassium, and calcium salts that have been analyzed and quantified from as low as parts per billion up to saturation concentrations. Over this wide range, spectral output is neither linear nor monotonic. Partial Least Squares analysis is used to quantify over these regions, in particular, near saturation. The presence of a second salt alters the emission of the first salt in a predictable manner, still allowing quantification.An acceptable explanation of the source of sonoluminescence remains to be found. Approximately a dozen theories, some from notable scientists, have been proposed to explain the phenomenon, but the actual mechanism remains elusive and highly debated. Experimental results presented here will argue against some of the more commonly presented explanations. The results suggest that while excitation likely originates from hydrodynamic compression, emission may result from isotropic lasing of the species.While most of the proof-of-concept data was obtained in a batch reactor cell, there are certain advantages to using a flow cell. Besides being closer to the format of an on-line instrument, sample volume can be reduced with an increase in control over parameters affecting sonoluminescence. Several flow-through cells are described with evaluations of their potential for quantitative analysis and sonochemistry.
- Chemistry