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Laser Ablation Ambient Sampling

When a pulsed laser hits a material, it can remove molecules (desorption) or particles of material (ablation) and can create ions through a number of different mechanisms. All of these can be used for mass spectrometry. Some of the projects described below use infrared lasers, which are useful for mass spectrometry due to their efficient material removal and the ability to tune the material removal by changing the laser wavelength.

Laser Ablation Sample Transfer

In mass spectrometry, lasers are typically used to create ions directly, but they can also be used to remove small quantities of material. This allows additional sample processing steps (for example the separation of complex mixtures) to take place before the ions are formed. With laser ablation sample transfer (LAST), the laser ablates material from the sample, which is captured in a solvent or on a target. Further processing by liquid chromatography is performed before ions are formed for mass spectrometry analysis.

Nanoelectrospray mass spectra of (a) human blood, (b) whole milk, (c) egg yolk, and (d) egg white prepared by infrared laser ablation sample transfer.
Nanoelectrospray mass spectra of (a) human blood, (b) whole milk, (c) egg yolk, and (d) egg white prepared by infrared laser ablation sample transfer.