Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research
Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences,
The University of British Columbia

Laser Ablation

laserspotpcigrPCIGR offers a workstation, named LaserSpot, designed for the preparation, imaging, and data processing of both in-situ and micro-analysis.


RESOlution M-50LR

The RESOlution M-50LR (Australian Scientific Instruments, Inc.) at PCIGR is a Class I laser device equipped with a UV excimer laser source (Coherent COMPex Pro 110, 193nm). The powerful laser head and sophisticated optical system allow for the ablation of a wide range of geological and environmental materials at high resolution and low absorbance. High sampling resolution is assured with spot sizes from 5 to 200 μm.

A recent upgrade of the sample stage (‘z-stage’) enables an accurate beam focus even on rough sample surfaces. In addition, a unique two-volume cell developed by Laurin Technic Pty. Ltd. (Australia) provides high sensitivity, low fractionation and short wash-out times as well as fast sample throughput.

PCIGR has a second complete sample chamber and introduction accessories in order to separate high-matrix work from measurements at ultra-low levels and, hence, to avoid cross-contamination. Samples of various dimensions such as microscopic slides, mineral mounts, thick rock sections, slices of speleothems, drill cores and samples of irregular shape may be investigated via multiple sample holder.

At PCIGR, the RESOlution laser system can be connected to an Agilent 7700 Series quadrupole ICP-MS and to the HR-SF-ICP-MS Nu AttoM (Nu Instruments, Inc.). The Q-ICP-MS incorporates a newly developed third generation collision/reaction cell used in helium mode and offers higher sensitivity, lower backgrounds and more effective polyatomic interference removal of complex sample matrices. The HR-SF-ICP-MS Nu Attom enables high-precision elemental and isotopic analyses at low concentration levels. Most applications at present comprise the analyses of low-level trace element concentrations in quartz veins and mineral grains, investigations of mineral zonation and geochronological work on zircons.

Using these systems, we analyze growth rings of mussel shells and ototliths for their trace element variations. One focus of the laser work at PCIGR is the development and testing of appropriate standard and reference materials for application in microanalytical work by laser ablation.