Laser Ablation ICP-MS as a tool for surface analysis in comparison to other elemental analysis methods

Date: 14 June 2019

Venue: Campus Middelheim, A.143 - Middelheimlaan 1 - 2020 Antwerpen (route: UAntwerpen, Campus Middelheim)

Time: 4:00 PM

Organization / co-organization: Department of Chemistry

PhD candidate: Kevin Hellemans

Principal investigator: Koen Janssens

Short description: PhD defence Kevin Hellemans - Faculty of Science, Department of Chemistry


This investigation presents an overview of the capabilities of LA-ICP-MS as a tool for quantitative analysis, isotopic ratios and elemental mapping. To that end, an overview of the technique is given, together with a summary on the most important parameters that govern the quality of a LA-ICP-MS measurement.

For quantitative analysis, an overview is given of the current calibration strategies applied to LA-ICP-MS, both towards selection and/or preparation of standards and data treatment. Additionally, a novel calibration strategy based on linear combination of standards was put forward. A case study was presented where the default calibration strategy from literature was applied and compared to data from SEM-EDX to provide a baseline for the performance of the technique. In a second case study, our novel approach was employed and only LA-ICP-MS data was used, yielding excellent quantitative data.

In the field of isotopic ratios, we investigated the limitations of the use of a low resolution quadrupole mass spectrometer for the determination of isotopic ratios and were able to estimate the expected precision and accuracy of the technique. The performance proved sufficient to distinguish weapon grade plutonium from global fall-out, as demonstrated by the case study in that chapter.

Finally, we presented the capabilities of the technique in elemental imaging, together with the most popular multivariate data analysis tools in imaging experiments. To compare it against other techniques as a tool for elemental imaging, a paint sample previously analysed with SEM-EDX and μ-XRD was reanalysed to provide an accurate representation of the analytical performance of LA-ICP-MS.