Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2009, $237,977)
Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma – mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) is a nondestructive method for trace elemental analysis of solids. This project will utilize the latest development in LA technology: a new short pulse (~100 fs) ultraviolet (266 nm) laser available in the PI's lab. Such a laser is believed to provide particulates from the sample that are closer to its real elemental composition and that are much better atomized and ionized when they travel through the ICP. The result is more accurate elemental identification and better quantification with less need for closely matched solid standard materials. When combined with our magnetic sector ICP-MS instrument, the result is very high sensitivity (i.e., sub-ppb levels can be measured) and selectivity for trace elements. These improved analytical capabilities should extend the scope of application of trace element evidence to different materials (e.g., glass panes, metals, plastics, tapes) of forensic interest.