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Anal Chem. 2018 Oct 16;90(20):11820-11826. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.8b01197. Epub 2018 Oct 1.

Feasibility of Nanoparticle-Enhanced Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry.

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Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science , Masaryk University , Kotlářská 267/2 , 611 37 Brno , Czech Republic.
Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC) , Masaryk University , Kamenice 753/5 , 625 00 Brno , Czech Republic.
Central European Institute of Technology , Brno University of Technology , Purkyňova 656/123 , 612 00 Brno , Czech Republic.
Institute of Machine and Industrial Design, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering , Brno University of Technology , Technická 2896/2 , 616 69 Brno , Czech Republic.


Nanoparticles (NPs) applied to the surface of some solids can increase signals in inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS). Drops containing 20 and/or 40 nm nanoparticles of Ag and/or Au were deposited on metallic and ceramic/glass samples, and after being dried, both the samples treated with NPs and plain targets were ablated by one pulse per spot. The laser ablation ICPMS (LA-ICPMS) signals were enhanced for metallic samples modified with NPs in comparison to signals produced at the plain, untreated surface. Maps of LA-ICPMS signals recorded for several laser fluences show that the NP-induced signal enhancement exceeds even 2 orders of magnitude for metallic samples. No enhancement was achieved for nonconductive samples. This enhancement is limited to the peripheral annular region of the dried droplet area where NPs are concentrated due to the "coffee stain" effect. Ablation crater profilometric inspection revealed a more uniform material rearrangement over the NP-treated surface compared with the ablated plain target. However, besides a smoother crater bottom, no other evidence of an NP-enhancing effect was noticed, although an increased ablation rate was anticipated. Limits of detection dropped by 1 order of magnitude for the minor elements in the presence of NPs. Observed phenomena depend only on the NP surface concentration but not on the material or size of the NPs. An electron microprobe study of the collected ablation aerosol has shown that aerosol particles consisting of target material are aggregated around the NPs. The hypothesis is that such aggregates exhibit better transport/vaporization efficiency, thus enhancing signals for metallic samples. A detailed study of the suggested mechanism will be continued in ongoing work.

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