Chemical characterization of single micro- and nano- particles by optical catapulting – optical trapping – laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy

F. J. Fortes, A. Fernández-Bravo and J. J. Laserna, Spectrochimica Acta, Part B, 2014, 100, 78 – 85


Spectral identification of individual micro- and nano-sized particles by the sequential intervention of optical catapulting, optical trapping and laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy is presented. The three techniques are used for different purposes. Optical catapulting (OC) serves to put the particulate material under inspection in aerosol form. Optical trapping (OT) permits the isolation and manipulation of individual particles from the aerosol, which are subsequently analyzed by laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LISS). Once catapulted, the dynamics of particle trapping depends both on the laser beam characteristics (power and intensity gradient) and on the particle properties (size, mass and shape). Particles are stably trapped in air at atmospheric pressure and can be conveniently manipulated for a precise positioning for LIBS analysis. The spectra acquired from the individually trapped particles permit a straightforward identification of the material inspected. Variability of LIBS signal for the inspection of Ni microspheres was 30% relative standard deviation. OC-OT-LIBS permits the separation of particles in a heterogeneous mixture and the subsequent analysis of the isolated particle of interest. In order to evaluate the sensitivity of the approach, the number of absolute photons emitted by a single trapped particle was calculated. The limit of detection CLOD) for Al2O3 particles was calculated to be 200 attograms aluminium.

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