Abstract

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.

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