Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS)

Instrument: (ESI) New Wave UP193FX Laser Ablation System coupled to Agilent 7500cs ICP-MS

Key instrument capabilities

This dedicated LA-ICP-MS system is capable of low level trace element determinations in most solid materials with minimal sample destruction and spatial resolutions of 5 to 150 microns.

Precise U-Pb age determinations can be obtained in zircons and other accessory mineral phases. Material may be prepared as grain separates or in situ age determinations may be obtained from petrographic sections.

How it works

  1. A laser beam is focused and fired at the sample surface.
  2. As the laser drills into the sample, the material removed is picked up in a flow of gas
  3. This is transported to an ICP-MS where the material is ionised. 
  4. Ions are separated according to their mass/charge ratio and the ions counted.

Quantitative analyses can be obtained for: most elements in the mass range 5-250amu (practically 7Li to 238U).

Typical detection limits: in the order of a few parts per billion (ppb) to a few parts per million (ppm). 

To fully quantify data the concentration of an internal standard must be known prior to laser analysis. This is typically the concentration of a major element determined by electron probe micro-analysis (EPMA).

Contact details

For further information or to arrange to use the instrument contact:

Dr Teresa Jeffries
Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 5362
Fax: +44 (0)20 7942 5811

Cathodoluminescence image of a zircon crystal showing a laser ablation pit
Examples of LA-ICP-MS applications

View some examples of how the LA-ICP-MS system can be used to reveal dietary changes in teeth, analyse zoned minerals and fossil fish scales, or obtain U-Pb ages in accessory minerals.