A detection system consisting of a photothermal heterodyne interferometer (PHI) combined with semi-micro HPLC (high-performance liquid chromatography) has been designed and investigated. An ultraviolet (UV) or deep-UV laser emitting at 375 or 213 nm, respectively, was used for the excitation of nitro-polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (NPAHs) and amino acids. A photothermally induced change in the refractive index of the solvent causes an optical phase difference between two arms of the interferometer, one beam passing through the photoexcited region and another used as a reference, which was sensitively detected with the PHI. The separation and detection of NPAHs and amino acids were successfully demonstrated via semi-micro HPLC with the PHI and a UV detector. The detection limits of the UVexcitation PHI for NPAHs were 1.2 – 5.2 times better than that of the commercial UV detector, although the first demonstration of deep-UV excitation suffered from significant baseline fluctuation.
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