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Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS)

Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) is a direct sampling analytical technology that enables highly sensitive elemental and isotopic analyses on solid samples. LA-ICP-MS begins with a laser beam focused on the sample surface to generate aerosols – a process known as Laser Ablation. The ablated particles are then transported to the plasma source of the ICP-MS instrument for ionization of the ablated mass. The ions generated in the plasma torch are subsequently introduced to a mass analyzer for both elemental and isotopic analysis.

LA-ICP-MS is one of the most universal analytical techniques today. Samples can be both electrically conducting or non-conducting, and the analysis can be performed practically without any sample preparation. Depending on the analytical measurement system, very small amount of sample quantities (picograms to femtograms) might be sufficient for highly sensitive (parts per billion) survey analysis. Traditional liquid nebulization approaches for ICP-MS require the removal of milligrams of sample mass in order to be sensitive. In addition, a focused laser beam permits spatial characterization of analytes, with microns range resolution in general both in terms of lateral and depth directions.

Ideal Uses
  • Survey chemical analysis of solids
  • Traceability analysis
  • Element/isotope distribution analysis and mapping
  • Local inclusion and defect analysis
  • Depth specific multi-element chemical assay
Technical Specifications

Species Detected: positive ions of stable isotopes
Sensitivity: parts per billion (ppbw)
Depth Resolution: approximately 1 μm
Typical Spot Size: 10 – 100 μm

Strengths
  • Direct elemental and isotopic analysis of large variety samples
  • Analysis without losses of analytes or cross-contaminations
  • Measurements independent of sample geometry and electrical conductivity
  • Spatial distribution analysis / mapping
Limitations
  • Limited sample amount is consumed therefore it can be less representative of the bulk
  • Matrix matched reference materials are usually required for quantitative analysis