Analysis and comparison of glass fragments by laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) and ICP-MS

Tatiana Trejos, Shirly Montero, José R. Almirall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


The discrimination potential of Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) is compared with previously reported solution ICP-MS methods using external calibration (EC) with internal standardization and a newly reported solution isotope dilution (ID) method for the analysis of two different glass populations. A total of 91 different glass samples were used for the comparison study; refractive index and elemental composition were measured by the techniques mentioned above. One set consisted of 45 headlamps taken from a variety of automobiles that represents a range of 20 years of manufacturing dates. A second set consisted of 46 automotive glasses (side windows, rear windows, and windshields) representing casework glass from different vehicle manufacturers over several years. The element menu for the LA-ICP-MS and EC-ICP-MS methods include Mg, Al, Ca, Mn, Ce, Ti, Zr, Sb, Ga, Ba, Rb, Sm, Sr, Hf, La, and Pb. The ID method was limited to the analysis of two isotopes each of Mg, Sr, Zr, Sb, Ba, Sm, Hf, and Pb. Laser ablation analyses were performed with a Q switched Nd:YAG, 266 nm, 6 mJ output energy laser. The laser was used in depth profile mode while sampling using a 50 μm spot size for 50 sec at 10 Hz (500 shots). The typical bias for the analysis of NIST 612 by LA-ICP-MS was less than 5% in all cases and typically better than 5% for most isotopes. The precision for the vast majority of the element menu was determined generally less than 10% for all the methods when NIST 612 was measured (40 μg g-1). Method detection limits (MDL) for the EC and LA-ICP-MS methods were similar and generally reported as less than 1 μg g-1 for the analysis of NIST 612. While the solution sample introduction methods using EC and ID presented excellent sensitivity and precision, these methods have the disadvantages of destroying the sample, and also involve complex sample preparation. The laser ablation method was simpler, faster, and produced comparable discrimination to the EC-ICP-MS and ID-ICP-MS. LA-ICP-MS can offer an excellent alternative to solution analysis of glass in forensic casework samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1255-1264
Number of pages10
JournalAnalytical and bioanalytical chemistry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Elemental analysis
  • Forensic science
  • Glass
  • ICP-MS
  • Laser ablation
  • Trace evidence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry


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