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Talanta. 2005 Mar 15;65(5):1286-94. doi: 10.1016/j.talanta.2004.09.004.

Laser-induced particulate as carrier of analytical information in LA-ICPMS direct solid microanalysis.

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EMPA-Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research, Uberlandstrasse 129, CH 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland.


Laser ablation in combination with plasma spectrochemistry is an ideal technique for depth profiling analysis, based on signal profiles. However, signal profiles were found to be critically influenced by the characteristics of the ablated particles, especially their composition and size distribution, and consequently transport mechanism and plasma-assisted vaporization efficiency. Even for a refractory material like ceramic, relics of melting following laser irradiation were found, so that particles were non-stoichiometric as compared to the parent material. Estimates of transport efficiency showed that this is highly variable as a function of particle size. Large particles are likely to be lost in the sample chamber. Fine particles are prone to wall reaction, especially in Ar ambient. Variability in particle delivery to the ICP-MS was suspected to be the cause for an element-dependent analyte signal response. Fluctuation in particle vaporization degree as a consequence of plasma temperature instability was also responsible for element-dependent signal profile deviation. However, for a 10-fold higher mass load into the plasma, no direct fractionation effects were observed. Differential transport of chemically-differentiated analyte-carriers is suggested to be primary cause for element-dependent signal structure.

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