Metal particles produced by laser ablation for ICP-MS measurements

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Journal Article

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Pulsed laser ablation (266 nm) was used to generate metal particles of Zn and Al alloys using femtosecond (150 fs) and nanosecond (4 ns) laser pulses with identical fluences of 50 J cm−2. Characterization of particles and correlation with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP–MS) performance was investigated. Particles produced by nanosecond laser ablation were mainly primary particles with irregular shape and hard agglomerates (without internal voids). Particles produced by femtosecond laser ablation consisted of spherical primary particles and soft agglomerates formed from numerous small particles. Examination of the craters by white light interferometric microscopy showed that there is a rim of material surrounding the craters formed after nanosecond laser ablation. The determination of the crater volume by white light interferometric microscopy, considering the rim of material surrounding ablation craters, revealed that the volume ratio (fs/ns) of the craters on the selected samples was approximately 9 (Zn), 7 (NIST627 alloy) and 5 (NIST1711 alloy) times more ablated mass with femtosecond pulsed ablation compared to nanosecond pulsed ablation. In addition, an increase of Al concentration from 0 to 5% in Zn base alloys caused a large increase in the diameter of the particles, up to 65% while using nanosecond laser pulses. When the ablated particles were carried in argon into an ICP–MS, the Zn and Al signals intensities were greater by factors of ∼50 and ∼12 for fs versus ns ablation. Femtosecond pulsed ablation also reduced temporal fluctuations in the 66Zn transient signal by a factor of 10 compared to nanosecond laser pulses.





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