The adsorption of elemental mercury vapor on a thin (several hundred angstroms) gold film produces resistance changes in the film. An instrument for the detection of mercury based on this phenomenon is simple and rapid and requires no chemical separations other than passage of the vapor sample through a few standard dry filters. The instrument is portable, and the technique is directly applicable to environmental problems and geochemical prospecting. The limit of detection of the prototype instrument is 0.05 nanogram of mercury.
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