Sample Preparation for Repeated Measurements on a Single Liquid Droplet Using Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy

Appl Spectrosc. 2017 Apr;71(4):670-677. doi: 10.1177/0003702816685096. Epub 2017 Jan 20.


We studied changes in laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) signal intensity with the thickness of a liquid layer placed on a solid substrate, where an easily evaporating methanol sample was used. For a certain optimal liquid film thickness we obtained a manifold increase of the LIBS signal from methanol. Progressive liquid film thinning leads to a reduction and a successive disappearance of laser-induced splashes; the latter condition drastically reduces the sample consumption and allows measurements to be repeated many times on a single liquid droplet. In following, we developed two methods for actively controlled deformation, i.e., thinning of a liquid droplet (volume ∼10 µl) prior to its sampling by LIBS. Control of the droplet's height was achieved on a Si-SiO2 wafer substrate by electro-wetting in the case of water solutions or by target rotation in the case of viscous liquids. The chosen substrate also has the advantages of low cost, easy manipulation, and very high purity, thus minimizing interference with analytes. Through the droplet deformation, in a single-pulse excitation at moderate laser energy (70 mJ), we clearly detected Fe and Mn in peanut oil, which represent trace elements in edible oils (∼ 1 part per billion), according to results published in the literature.

Keywords: LIBS; Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy; laser ablation; liquid; plasma.