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Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry in Forensic Science

Forensic Science

  1. Tatiana Trejos,
  2. José R. Almirall

Published Online: 15 JUN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a9103

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

How to Cite

Trejos, T. and Almirall, J. R. 2010. Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry in Forensic Science. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. Florida International University, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Miami, FL, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUN 2010


The application of laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) to the elemental analysis of forensic matrices offers many advantages for solid sampling, including direct characterization of solids, the elimination of the need for chemical procedures for dissolution, minimal sample consumption, and a reduced risk of contamination from the sample preparation procedures associated with sample digestion. This article aims at summarizing the recent literature describing the use of LA-ICP-MS in the field of forensic examinations with selected applications, highlighting the forensic analyses of a variety of matrices and analytes of interest and including the advantages, limitations, and future trends in this field. A critical evaluation of the parameters of forensic interest is discussed in detail, including the analytical performance of the technique, discrimination potential (when comparing samples), the impact of sample homogeneity/heterogeneity at the microscale, reproducibility, quality control, sampling strategies, sampling size requirements, availability of matrix-matched standards, data analysis, and the interpretation of results. Practical considerations such as the selection of laser wavelength and carrier gas, the use of internal standardization, and quantification strategies are discussed as also the unique requirements of quality control and method validation and acceptance in court.


  • elemental analysis;
  • forensic;
  • evidence;
  • laser ablation;
  • glass;
  • paint;
  • soils;
  • mass spectrometry