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Effect of oxygen on laser-induced elemental fractionation in LA-ICP-MS analysis

Košler, Jan, Longerich, Henry P., Tubrett, Mike N.
Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry 2002 v.374 no.2 pp. 251-254
fractionation, glass, isotopes, oxidation, oxygen, particle size distribution, zircon
Elemental fractionation poses serious difficulties in obtaining accurate concentration and isotope ratio data when using laser ablation sampling. One of the factors that control the extent of laser-induced elemental fractionation is the composition of sample carrier gas in the sample cell. This study demonstrates that the presence of small amounts of oxygen in the He carrier gas has a significant effect on elemental fractionation during the ablation of silicate (NIST 612 glass and zircon 91500) and sulphide (NiS fire assay) samples. The extent of elemental fractionation for a given amount of ablated material and concentration of oxygen in the He carrier gas was related to the volume of the plasma plume that forms above the sample surface. This indicates that an oxidation reaction takes place in the plasma plume. It has been reported that oxidation can affect the particle size distribution during laser sampling and hence change the extent of elemental fractionation. The purity of the carrier gas used in laser ablation–ICP-MS, as well as the amount of oxygen released from silicate and oxide samples during the ablation in "oxygen-free" ambient gas, is shown to contribute significantly to elemental fractionation.