A Brief History of Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA–ICP–MS)

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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