Calibration has been termed the "Achilles heel" of Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled
Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). This is down to the fact that Certified
Reference Materials (CRMs) do not exist for the majority of sample types and the
detrimental effects of elemental fractionation and the matrix dependency of the ablation
This thesis investigates the potential for two calibration strategies: one based upon the
online additions' of aqueous calibration standards; the other, upon the pressing of
powders into discs utilising organic chromophores that absorb at the lasing wavelength
of 213 nm. Finally, deviations of the above strategies have been devised enabling the
absolute quantitation technique of isotope dilution to be employed.
All the strategies investigated have been validated by analysis of a wide range of CRMs
including: glasses, plastics, metals, soils, sediments and powdered plant matter.
Throughout this project, useful insights into fundamental ICP and ablation processes
have been obtained. The online additions strategy allowed investigation into mass .
loading induced matrix effects, and the relative merits of utilising a wet plasma rather
than a dry; whilst the pressed powder approach allowed examination of fundamental,
absorption related ablation processes.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.