Characterization of extreme ultraviolet laser ablation mass spectrometry for actinide trace analysis and nanoscale isotopic imaging
We demonstrate a new technique for trace analysis that has nanometer scale resolution imaging capability: Extreme Ultraviolet Time-of-Flight Laser Ablation Mass Spectrometry (EUV TOF). We describe the characterization of this technique and discuss its advantages. Using the well-standardized NIST 61x glasses, the results show the EUV TOF spectra contain well defined signatures of U, Th, and their oxides, with far fewer spectral interferences than observed in Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS TOF). We demonstrate that the ratio of U and Th ions to the oxide ion signatures is adjustable with EUV laser pulse energy. Sample utilization efficiency (SUE) which measures the ratio of detected ions to atoms in the ablated volume was used as a measure of trace analysis sensitivity of EUV TOF. For U and Th, SUE is 0.014% and 0.017%, respectively, which is comparable to SIMS TOF in the same mass range. In imaging mode EUV TOF is capable to map variations in composition with a lateral resolution of 80 nm. Such high lateral resolution enabled mapping of the isotope distribution of 238U and 235U in closely spaced micron-size uranium oxide particles from isotope standard materials. Trace elemental sensitivity and nanometer spatial resolution gives EUV TOF great potential to dramatically improve the state-of-the-art laser ablation/ionization mass spectrometry and elemental spectro-microscopy for applications such as geochemical, forensic and environmental analysis.