Low background mould-prepared gelatine standards for reproducible quantification in elemental bio-imaging
Standard preparation for elemental bio-imaging by laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry is confounded by the chemical and physical differences between standard and sample matrices. These differences lead to variable ablation, aerosol generation and transportation characteristics and must be considered when designing matrix-matched standards for reliable calibration and quantification. The ability to precisely mimic sample matrices is hampered due to the complexity and heterogeneity of biological tissue and small variabilities in standard matrices and sample composition often negatively impact accuracy, precision and robustness. Furthermore, cumbersome preparation protocols may limit reproducibility and traceability. This work presents novel facile methods for the preparation of gelatine standards using both commercial and laboratory-made moulds. Surface roughness, thickness and robustness of the mould-prepared standards were compared against cryo-sectioned gelatine and homogenised brain tissue standards. The mould-prepared standards had excellent thickness accuracy and signal precision which allowed robust quantification, were easier to prepare and therefore easier to reproduce. We also compared gelatine standards prepared from a variety of animal sources and discuss their suitability to calibrate low level elemental concentrations. Finally, we present a simple method to remove background metals in gelatine using various chelating resins to increase the dynamic calibration range and to improve limits of analysis.