An aerosol particle analyzer includes a laser ablation chamber, a gas-filled conduit, and a mass spectrometer. The laser ablation chamber can be operated at a low pressure, which can be from 0.1 mTorr to 30 mTorr. The ablated ions are transferred into a gas-filled conduit. The gas-filled conduit reduces the electrical charge and the speed of ablated ions as they collide and mix with buffer gases in the gas-filled conduit. Preferably, the gas filled-conduit includes an electromagnetic multipole structure that collimates the nascent ions into a beam, which is guided into the mass spectrometer. Because the gas-filled conduit allows storage of vast quantities of the ions from the ablated particles, the ions from a single ablated particle can be analyzed multiple times and by a variety of techniques to supply statistically meaningful analysis of composition and isotope ratios.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
This invention was made with United States government support under Prime Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The United States government has certain rights in this invention.