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Testing Textiles Using the LA-ICP-MS-TOF Method

Research and development

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The LA-ICP-TOF-MS method (Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry) is an analytical technique for determining trace elements and their isotopes in solid samples. The action of a high-energy laser beam on a solid results in the evaporation and removal of material in the form of neutral atoms and molecules, as well as, positive and negative ions from the solid surface exposed to this radiation. In chemical analysis, the pulse laser based on a solid such as neodym (Nd:YAG) has proved to be very useful as it makes it possible to incorporate solid samples directly into plasma. It has been utilised as a source of very high energy with specific properties, and can be used to analyse various solids (conductive and non-conductive) with various sizes and shapes, where the laser beam can be focused on a very small surface with exceptionally precise location, while the evaporated material can be immediately analysed. This technique has been successfully used to analyse the elemental composition of the Wawel Castle's arras pieces, where the maximum amount of information was obtained with negligible damage to the samples. The following elements have been discovered: Ag and Au (derived from strip) and Li, Al, Cr, Cu, Zn, Rb, Sr, Sn, Ba, Ce, Hg, Pb, Bi, U (mainly in fabrics). The LA-ICP-MS-TOF method is finding growing application in the analysis of geological, environmental and forensic samples. An attempt was made to apply this technique for testing textiles, especially historical ones.

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elemental analysis, historical textiles, Wawel, Cracow

Published in issue no 4 (58) / 2006, pages 87–90.

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