Providing samples for analysis using LA-ICP-MS

What can be analysed?

Most inorganic solid materials are suitable for LA-ICP-MS, including:

  • rocks
  • minerals
  • bones
  • teeth
  • shells
  • glasses
  • ceramics 

Materials should be:

  • dry
  • clean
  • free of any coating (carbon, gold, etc)

The Museum specialises mainly in the analysis of natural inorganic materials, together with some synthetic materials including glasses and ceramics. 

Whilst analysis of the following materials is possible by LA-ICP-MS, they are not routinely analysed at the Museum:

  • metals, including sulphide minerals
  • paints
  • plastics
  • soft tissues
  • hair

Sample preparation

Samples do not need to have surface preparation, but data quality is improved considerably if the samples are polished. 

Any carbon coating from previous electron probe micro-analysis should be removed. 

Any gold coating on samples previously imaged by scanning electron microscopy or ion probe analysis must be removed thoroughly. Residues of gold coating can severely affect LA-ICP-MS data quality.

Samples to be prepared (cut, mounted and polished) should be presented to the Preparation Laboratory at least 4 weeks prior to the LA-ICP-MS booking.

Sample sizes that can be accommodated

Polished blocks
  • 25mm diameter
  • 40mm diameter
  • Odd sizes up to 40mm diameter may be accommodated. Please contact us for further information.
Polished thin sections
  • 48mm x 26mm
  • 25mm diameter
Unprepared samples

Odd sized and shaped samples may be accommodated. Please contact us for further information.

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
Email