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Research at St Andrews

Automated extraction of a five-year LA-ICP-MS trace element dataset of ten common glass and carbonate reference materials: long-term data quality, optimisation and laser cell homogeneity

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David Evans, Wolfgang Müller

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LA-ICP-MS is increasingly applied to obtain quantitative multi-element data with minimal sample preparation, usually achieved by calibration using reference materials. However, some ubiquitous reference materials, e.g., the NIST SRM 61x series glasses, suffer from reported value uncertainties for certain elements. Moreover, no long-term dataset of analyses conducted over a range of ablation and tuning conditions exists. Thus, there has been little rigorous examination of the extent to which offsets between measured and reported values are the result of error in these values rather than analytically induced fractionation. We present new software (‘LA-MINE’), capable of extracting LA-ICP-MS data with no user-input, and apply this to our system, yielding over five years of data (~ 5700 analyses of ten glass and carbonate reference materials). We examine the relative importance of systematic analytical bias and possible error in reported values, through a mass-specific breakdown of fourteen of the most commonly determined elements. Furthermore, these data, obtained under a wide range of different ablation conditions, enable specific recommendations of how data quality may be improved, e.g., the role of diatomic gas, the effect of differential inter-glass fractionation factors, and choice of transport tubing material. Finally, these data demonstrate that the two-volume Laurin ablation cell is characterised by no discernible spatial heterogeneity in measured trace element ratios.


Original languageEnglish
JournalGeostandards and Geoanalytical Research
VolumeEarly View
Early online date5 Mar 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Mar 2018

    Research areas

  • Laser ablation, ICP-MS, 193 nm ArF excimer, Laser cell homogeneity, Calibration, Accuracy, Data-reduction software

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