Investigation on the suitability of ablated carbon as an internal standard in laser ablation ICP-MS of polymers†
The conventional quantitative method for the analysis of inorganic elements in polymer matrices is a complex and time consuming process that presents a significant risk for error. Typically, polymers are digested in a microwave oven or other devices under high temperature and pressure for several hours while employing different mixtures of high purity acids. In many cases, particularly when high concentrations of doped elements are present, the digestion is often incomplete and therefore the reproducibility depends strongly on the type of polymer and additives used. A promising alternative technology that allows for the direct analysis of these polymers without digestion is laser ablation ICP-MS. Due to a lack of available reference materials and the presence of matrix dependent effects, a precise calibration cannot be obtained. In order to compensate for the matrix dependent effects the use of internal standardization is necessary. In this study the correlation between the carbon released during the ablation process and the 13C signal detected by ICP-MS and its use as an internal standard are investigated. For this purpose, twenty-one virgin polymer materials are ablated; the released carbon is determined and correlated with the corresponding integrated 13C signal. The correlation resulted in a direct relationship between the ablated carbon and 13C signal demonstrating the potential ability to neglect at least some of the matrix dependent and transport effects which occur during the laser ablation of virgin polymers.