Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) has been used for more than 30 years to determine the elemental composition of natural and synthesized objects. A focused laser beam ablates a small volume of target material, and the aerosol produced is transferred in a gas stream to an ICP-MS for elemental and/or isotopic analysis. Through the increasing use of deep ultraviolet lasers and ultra-sensitive mass spectrometers, the technique has evolved towards higher sampling resolution and to generating 2-D (and 3-D) images of compositional variations. The future is likely to see femtosecond lasers and simultaneous mass spectrometers in common use, making new research areas possible.
- laser ablation
- inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry
- in situ analysis