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

Description of method

LA-ICP-MS is a sensitive analytical method for rapid multi-element determination in the trace and ultratrace range of geological, ceramic and radioactive solid sample materials and technical products. The sample material to be investigated is vaporized in a laser plasma by focussed laser radiation and transported with argon into the inductively coupled plasma ion source of an ICP-MS. The positively charged ions are extracted from the inductively coupled plasma through an interface into the high vacuum of the mass spectrometer and separated in the mass-spectrometric separation system according to their mass/charge ratio and energy/charge ratio and detected by a secondary electron multiplier. By means of double-focussing sector-field ICP-MS it is possible to separate isobaric interferences of disturbing molecular and atomic ions of the analyte (e.g. 56Fe+ and 40Ar16O+), the application of the collision cell in ICP-MS permits the dissociation of disturbing molecular ions.

Features of LA-ICP-MS

  • simultaneous concentration determination of all chemical elements (except noble gases) in the concentration range from 100 % to sub-ng g-1;
  • direct bulk, trace and ultratrace analysis of metals, alloys, semiconductors and preferentially ceramics and insulators (detection limits: » 1 ng g-1) without sample preparation;
  • isotope analysis of samples of natural isotopic composition and enriched stable tracers;
  • isotope dilution analysis using stable tracers for improving the accuracy and reproducibility of the analytical results;
  • elemental analysis of thick films (>1µm); microrange analysis;
  • The quantification is performed via reference materials of similar matrix composition using relative element sensitivity factors, reproducibility of the results: 10 - 20 %; if no suitable standard samples are available, the analytical results are indicated with an error factor of 2-3;
  • suitable samples are compact solids; powder samples are pressed into targets (10 mm x 10 mm x 3 mm).

Analysis examples

  • tissue samples (e.g. brain samples) BrainMet
  • direct trace and ultratrace analysis of metals, semiconductors and ceramics (e.g. SiC, WC, BC4, BN, ZrO2, Al2O3, HTSL) , ultratrace analysis of long-lived radionuclides in radioactive waste (e.g. concrete), superpure graphite, superpure metals (Cu, Pt, Pd, Ag, Au).


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