Development of a high speed, high efficiency LA-ICP-MS interface
thesisposted on 22.04.2013, 12:44 authored by David N. Douglas
Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) is now a well established analytical technique used to sample solid materials and determine their elemental composition. Two areas that are becoming increasingly important, and for which LA-ICP-MS is a key tool, are bio-imaging and the analysis of micro-particulates. However, current instrumental designs limit the practicality of the technique for these applications. This study investigates the development of a high speed, high efficiency LA-ICP-MS interface through modelling of the flow dynamics of a newly designed laser ablation cell and experimental investigation of single laser pulse response. Through this work the Sniffer-Dual Concentric Injector interface was realised. This interface reduced particle residence times within the laser cell and transport tubing. The interface was also used to investigate turbulence related aerosol dispersion within the ICP and potential designs to overcome this. The resulting design yields an interface with improved sensitivity and reduced aerosol dispersion such that a lower limit of detection is achieved, important when considering the mass of analyte in a single cell or micro-particulate, compared to existing designs. Thus the interface can be used to improve image spatial resolution as the ablation spot size, and thus pixel information, can be reduced; and also reduces total analysis time. The calibration technique Laser Ablation of a Sample In Liquid (LASIL) was also investigated as a means of calibration for solid samples. The investigation lead to the development of LASIL in a droplet, a technique that can be used to calibrate solid samples when a matrix matched standard is unavailable. The mechanism of the technique resulted in an improved laser-energy sample coupling efficiency and a reduction in the liquid to ablated mass ratio, thus decreasing sampling time. As the technique captures the ablated particulate in solution, post chemistry techniques can be used to remove analyte interferences.