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International Journal of Spectroscopy
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 234949, 14 pages
Research Article

On Applicability of a Miniaturised Laser Ablation Time of Flight Mass Spectrometer for Trace Elements Measurements

Space Research & Planetary Sciences, Institute of Physics, University Bern, Sidlerstrasse 5, 3012 Bern, Switzerland

Received 13 July 2011; Accepted 19 October 2011

Academic Editor: Michael Balogh

Copyright © 2012 Marek Tulej et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We present results from mass spectrometric analysis of NIST standard materials and meteoritic samples conducted by a miniaturised laser ablation mass spectrometer designed for space research. The mass analyser supports investigation with a mass resolution ( 𝑚 / Δ 𝑚 ) 500–600 and dynamic range within seven decades. Nevertheless, to maintain an optimal spectral quality laser irradiances lower than ~1 GW/cm2 are applied so far which results in a spread of RSC values. To achieve the quantitative performance of mass analyser, various effects influencing RSC factors have to be investigated. In this paper we investigate influence of laser irradiance, sampling procedure and plasma chemistry on the quantitative elemental and isotopic analysis. The studies indicate necessity for accurate control of laser characteristics and acquisition procedure. A relatively low irradiance applied causes a negligible sample damage and allows for accumulation of large number of waveforms from one sample location. The procedure yields statistically well averaged data and allows a sensitive in-depth analysis. The quantitative analyses of isotopic composition can be performed with accuracy and precision better as 1% and 2%, for isotopic patterns of elements and clusters, respectively. The numerical integration methods would be preferred to achieve more accurate results. The measurements of Allende sample yield detection of Pb isotopic pattern, nevertheless cluster species are readily observed in spectrum and make the elemental analysis of other trace elements difficult due to isobaric interferences. These detections are of a considerable interest because of possible application of the instrument for in situ elemental and isotopic analysis and radiometric dating of solids.