Size-related vaporisation and ionisation of laser-induced glass particles in the inductively coupled plasma

Hans Rudolf Kuhn, Marcel Guillong, Detlef Günther*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    140 Citations (Scopus)


    Ongoing discussions about the origin of elemental fractionation occurring during LA-ICP-MS analysis show that this problem is still far from being well understood. It is becoming accepted that all three possible sources (ablation, transport, excitation) contribute to elemental fractionation. However, experimental data about the vaporisation size limit of different particles in the ICP, as produced in laser ablation, have not been available until now. This information should allow one to determine the signal contributing mass within the ICP and would further clarify demands on suitable laser ablation systems and gas atmospheres in terms of their particle size distribution. The results presented here show a vaporisation size limit of laser induced particles, which was found at particle sizes between 90 nm and 150 nm using an Elan 6000 ICP-MS. Due to the fact that the ICP-MS response was used as evaluation parameter, vaporisation and ionisation limits are not distinguishable. The upper limit was determined by successively removing the larger particles from the aerosol, which was created by ablation of a NIST 610 glass standard at a wavelength of 266 nm, using a recently developed particle separation device. Various particle fractions were separated from the aerosol entering the ICP. The decrease in signal intensity is not proportional to the decrease in volume, indicating that particles above 150 nm in diameter are not completely ionised in the ICP. Due to the limited removal range of the particle separation device, which cannot remove particles smaller than 150 nm, single hole ablations were used to determine the lower vaporisation limit. This is based on measurements showing that larger particles occur dominantly during the first 100 laser pulses only. After this period, the ratio of ICP-MS counts and total particle volume was found to be constant while most of the particles are smaller than 90 nm, indicating complete vaporisation and ionisation of these particles. To describe the influence of different plasma forward powers on the vaporisation limit, the range 1000-1600 W was studied. Results indicate that optimum vaporisation and ionisation occurs at 1300 W. However, an increase of the particle ionisation limit towards larger particles was not observed within the accuracy of this study using the full range of parameters available for optimisation on commonly used ICP-MS instruments.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1069-1074
    Number of pages6
    JournalAnalytical and bioanalytical chemistry
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2004


    • Aerosol
    • Ionisation
    • Laser-ablation-ICP-MS
    • Particles
    • Plasma


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