The increasing need to characterize solid samples from different fields of science (e.g., advanced materials, geology, cultural heritage, biological tissue sections) is forcing the development of analytical techniques for accurate direct solid analysis in a wide variety of matrices. Laser ablation (LA) coupled to inductively coupled plasma – mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) allows the chemical characterization of solids both in bulk and in spatially–resolved analysis. LA-ICP-MS offers a precise and relatively fast measurement of heteroatoms at the trace and ultra–trace concentration level, including isotope ratios, with none or minimal sample preparation. Furthermore, recent research highlights the analysis of biological molecules by LA-ICP-MS. This book chapter reviews and discusses the principles, analytical performance, new instrumental developments and pros and cons of LA-ICP-MS. Selected representative applications are described related to bulk and spatially–resolved analysis.
Keywords: Depth profiling, Fractionation effects, Heteroatom–tag protein analysis, Imaging, Inductively coupled plasma – mass spectrometry, Isotopic analysis, Laser ablation, Matrix effects, Quantitative analysis, Spatially–resolved analysis.