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A photoionization detector or PID is a type of gas detector.
Typical photoionization detectors measure volatile organic compounds and other gases in concentrations from sub parts per billion to 10 000 parts per million (ppm). The photoionization detector is an efficient and inexpensive detector for many gas and vapor analytes. PIDs produce instantaneous readings, operate continuously, and are commonly used as detectors for gas chromatography or as hand-held portable instruments. Hand-held, battery-operated versions are widely used in military, industrial, and confined working facilities for health and safety. Their primary use is for monitoring possible worker exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as solvents, fuels, degreasers, plastics & their precursors, heat transfer fluids, lubricants, etc. during manufacturing processes and waste handling.
Portable PIDs are used for monitoring:
In a photoionization detector high-energy photons, typically in the vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) range, break molecules into positively charged ions. As compounds enter the detector they are bombarded by high-energy UV photons and are ionized when they absorb the UV light, resulting in ejection of electrons and the formation of positively charged ions. The ions produce an electric current, which is the signal output of the detector. The greater the concentration of the component, the more ions are produced, and the greater the current. The current is amplified and displayed on an ammeter or digital concentration display. The ions can undergo numerous reactions including reaction with oxygen or water vapor, rearrangement, and fragmentation. A few of them may recapture an electron within the detector to reform their original molecules; however only a small portion of the airborne analytes are ionized to begin with so the practical impact of this (if it occurs) is usually negligible. Thus, PIDs are non-destructive and can be used before other sensors in multiple-detector configurations.
The PID will only respond to components that have ionization energies similar to or lower than the energy of the photons produced by the PID lamp. As stand-alone detectors, PIDs are broad band and not selective, as these may ionize everything with an ionization energy less than or equal to the lamp photon energy. The more common commercial lamps have photons energy upper limits of approximately 8.4 eV, 10.0 eV, 10.6 eV, and 11.7 eV. The major and minor components of clean air all have ionization energies above 12.0 eV and thus do not interfere significantly in the measurement of VOCs, which typically have ionization energies below 12.0 eV. 
PID lamp photon emissions depend on the type of fill gas (which defines the light energy produced) and the lamp window, which affects the energy of photons that can exit the lamp:
|Main photon energy||Fill gas||Window material||Comments|
|10.6 eV||Kr||MgF2||Most robust|
The 10.6 eV lamp is the most common because it has strong output, has the longest life and responds to many compounds. In approximate order from most sensitive to least sensitive, these compounds include:
The first commercial application of photoionization detection was in 1973 as a hand-held instrument for the purpose of detecting leaks of VOCs, specifically vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), at a chemical manufacturing facility. The photoionization detector was applied to gas chromatography (GC) three years later, in 1976.  A PID is highly selective when coupled with a chromatographic technique or a pre-treatment tube such as a benzene-specific tube. Broader cuts of selectivity for easily ionized compounds can be obtained by using a lower energy UV lamp. This selectivity can be useful when analyzing mixtures in which only some of the components are of interest.
The PID is usually calibrated using isobutylene, and other analytes may produce a relatively greater or lesser response on a concentration basis. Although many PID manufacturers provide the ability to program an instrument with a correction factor for quantitative detection of a specific chemical, the broad selectivity of the PID means that the user must know the identity of the gas or vapor species to be measured with high certainty.  If a correction factor for benzene is entered into the instrument, but hexane vapor is measured instead, the lower relative detector response (higher correction factor) for hexane would lead to underestimation of the actual airborne concentration of hexane.
With a gas chromatograph, filter tube, or other separation technique upstream of the PID, matrix effects are generally avoided because the analyte enters the detector isolated from interfering compounds.
Response to stand-alone PIDs is generally linear from the ppb range up to at least a few thousand ppm. In this range, response to mixtures of components is also linearly additive.  At the higher concentrations, response gradually deviates from linearity because of recombination of oppositely charged ions formed in close proximity and/or 2) absorption of UV light without ionization.  The signal produced by a PID may be quenched when measuring in high humidity environments,  or when a compound such as methane is present in high concentrations of ≥1% by volume  This attenuation is due to the ability of water, methane, and other compounds with high ionization energies to absorb the photons emitted by the UV lamp without leading to the production of an ion current. This reduces the number of energetic photons available to ionize target analytes.
The Geiger–Müller tube or G–M tube is the sensing element of the Geiger counter instrument used for the detection of ionizing radiation. It is named after Hans Geiger, who invented the principle in 1908, and Walther Müller, who collaborated with Geiger in developing the technique further in 1928 to produce a practical tube that could detect a number of different radiation types.
Mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical technique that is used to measure the mass-to-charge ratio of ions. The results are presented as a mass spectrum, a plot of intensity as a function of the mass-to-charge ratio. Mass spectrometry is used in many different fields and is applied to pure samples as well as complex mixtures.
An ion source is a device that creates atomic and molecular ions. Ion sources are used to form ions for mass spectrometers, optical emission spectrometers, particle accelerators, ion implanters and ion engines.
Gas chromatography (GC) is a common type of chromatography used in analytical chemistry for separating and analyzing compounds that can be vaporized without decomposition. Typical uses of GC include testing the purity of a particular substance, or separating the different components of a mixture. In preparative chromatography, GC can be used to prepare pure compounds from a mixture.
Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) is an analytical method that combines the features of gas-chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify different substances within a test sample. Applications of GC-MS include drug detection, fire investigation, environmental analysis, explosives investigation, and identification of unknown samples, including that of material samples obtained from planet Mars during probe missions as early as the 1970s. GC-MS can also be used in airport security to detect substances in luggage or on human beings. Additionally, it can identify trace elements in materials that were previously thought to have disintegrated beyond identification. Like liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry, it allows analysis and detection even of tiny amounts of a substance.
Chemical ionization (CI) is a soft ionization technique used in mass spectrometry. This was first introduced by Burnaby Munson and Frank H. Field in 1966. This technique is a branch of gaseous ion-molecule chemistry. Reagent gas molecules are ionized by electron ionization, which subsequently react with analyte molecules in the gas phase in order to achieve ionization. Negative chemical ionization (NCI), charge-exchange chemical ionization and atmospheric-pressure chemical ionization (APCI), atmospheric pressure photoionization (APPI) are some of the common variations of this technique. CI has several important applications in identification, structure elucidation and quantitation of organic compounds. Beside the applications in analytical chemistry, the usefulness in chemical ionization extends toward biochemical, biological and medicinal fields as well.
Liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC–MS) is an analytical chemistry technique that combines the physical separation capabilities of liquid chromatography with the mass analysis capabilities of mass spectrometry (MS). Coupled chromatography - MS systems are popular in chemical analysis because the individual capabilities of each technique are enhanced synergistically. While liquid chromatography separates mixtures with multiple components, mass spectrometry provides structural identity of the individual components with high molecular specificity and detection sensitivity. This tandem technique can be used to analyze biochemical, organic, and inorganic compounds commonly found in complex samples of environmental and biological origin. Therefore, LC-MS may be applied in a wide range of sectors including biotechnology, environment monitoring, food processing, and pharmaceutical, agrochemical, and cosmetic industries.
An electron capture detector (ECD) is a device for detecting atoms and molecules in a gas through the attachment of electrons via electron capture ionization. The device was invented in 1957 by James Lovelock and is used in gas chromatography to detect trace amounts of chemical compounds in a sample.
A flame ionization detector (FID) is a scientific instrument that measures analytes in a gas stream. It is frequently used as a detector in gas chromatography. The measurement of ion per unit time make this a mass sensitive instrument. Standalone FIDs can also be used in applications such as landfill gas monitoring, fugitive emissions monitoring and internal combustion engine emissions measurement in stationary or portable instruments.
A gas detector is a device that detects the presence of gases in an area, often as part of a safety system. A gas detector can sound an alarm to operators in the area where the leak is occurring, giving them the opportunity to leave. This type of device is important because there are many gases that can be harmful to organic life, such as humans or animals.
Sample preparation for mass spectrometry is used for the optimization of a sample for analysis in a mass spectrometer (MS). Each ionization method has certain factors that must be considered for that method to be successful, such as volume, concentration, sample phase, and composition of the analyte solution. Quite possibly the most important consideration in sample preparation is knowing what phase the sample must be in for analysis to be successful. In some cases the analyte itself must be purified before entering the ion source. In other situations, the matrix, or everything in the solution surrounding the analyte, is the most important factor to consider and adjust. Often, sample preparation itself for mass spectrometry can be avoided by coupling mass spectrometry to a chromatography method, or some other form of separation before entering the mass spectrometer. In some cases, the analyte itself must be adjusted so that analysis is possible, such as in protein mass spectrometry, where usually the protein of interest is cleaved into peptides before analysis, either by in-gel digestion or by proteolysis in solution.
Proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) is an analytical chemistry technique that uses gas phase hydronium reagent ions which are produced in an ion source. PTR-MS is used for online monitoring of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in ambient air and was developed in 1995 by scientists at the Institut für Ionenphysik at the Leopold-Franzens University in Innsbruck, Austria. A PTR-MS instrument consists of an ion source that is directly connected to a drift tube and an analyzing system. Commercially available PTR-MS instruments have a response time of about 100 ms and reach a detection limit in the single digit pptv or even ppqv region. Established fields of application are environmental research, food and flavor science, biological research, medicine, security, cleanroom monitoring, etc.
Desorption atmospheric pressure photoionization (DAPPI) is an ambient ionization technique for mass spectrometry that uses hot solvent vapor for desorption in conjunction with photoionization. Ambient Ionization techniques allow for direct analysis of samples without pretreatment. The direct analysis technique, such as DAPPI, eliminates the extraction steps seen in most nontraditional samples. DAPPI can be used to analyze bulkier samples, such as, tablets, powders, resins, plants, and tissues. The first step of this technique utilizes a jet of hot solvent vapor. The hot jet thermally desorbs the sample from a surface. The vaporized sample is then ionized by the vacuum ultraviolet light and consequently sampled into a mass spectrometer. DAPPI can detect a range of both polar and non-polar compounds, but is most sensitive when analyzing neutral or non-polar compounds. This technique also offers a selective and soft ionization for highly conjugated compounds.
A chromatography detector is a device used in gas chromatography (GC) or liquid chromatography (LC) to detect components of the mixture being eluted off the chromatography column. There are two general types of detectors: destructive and non-destructive. The destructive detectors perform continuous transformation of the column effluent with subsequent measurement of some physical property of the resulting material. The non-destructive detectors are directly measuring some property of the column eluent and thus affords greater analyte recovery.
Atmospheric pressure laser ionization is an atmospheric pressure ionization method for mass spectrometry (MS). Laser light in the UV range is used to ionize molecules in a resonance-enhanced multiphoton ionization (REMPI) process. It is a selective and sensitive ionization method for aromatic and polyaromatic compounds. Atmospheric photoionization is the latest in development of atmospheric ionization methods.
RAE Systems, Inc., or RAE System by Honeywell, is a provider of wireless, gas and radiation detection instruments and systems that enable real-time safety and security threat detection to help mitigate risk, and protect workers, contractors, the public and assets. RAE Systems is located in San Jose, California. The company was founded in 1991 by Robert I. Chen and Peter Hsi.
An excimer lamp is a source of ultraviolet light produced by spontaneous emission of excimer (exciplex) molecules.
Atmospheric pressure photoionization (APPI) is a soft ionization method used in mass spectrometry (MS) usually coupled to liquid chromatography (LC), Ionization of molecules is achieved using a vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) light source operating at atmospheric pressure, either by direct absorption followed by electron ejection or through ionization of a dopant molecule that leads to chemical ionization of target molecules. The sample is usually a solvent spray that is vaporized by nebulization and heat. The benefit of APPI is that it ionizes molecules across a broad range of polarity and is particularly useful for ionization of low polarity molecules for which other popular ionization methods such as electrospray ionization (ESI) and atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) are less suitable. It is also less prone to ion suppression and matrix effects compared to ESI and APCI and typically has a wide linear dynamic range. The application of APPI with LC/MS is commonly used for analysis of petroleum compounds, pesticides, steroids, and drug metabolites lacking polar functional groups and is being extensively deployed for ambient ionization particularly for explosives detection in security applications.
The Polyarc reactor is a scientific instrument for the measurement of organic molecules. The reactor is paired with a flame ionization detector (FID) in a gas chromatograph (GC) to improve the sensitivity of the FID and give a uniform detector response for all organic molecules (GC-Polyarc/FID).
Resonance ionization is a process in optical physics used to excite a specific atom beyond its ionization potential to form an ion using a beam of photons irradiated from a pulsed laser light. In resonance ionization, the absorption or emission properties of the emitted photons are not considered, rather only the resulting excited ions are mass-selected, detected and measured. Depending on the laser light source used, one electron can be removed from each atom so that resonance ionization produces an efficient selectivity in two ways: elemental selectivity in ionization and isotopic selectivity in measurement.