Abstract

In this paper, porous electrospun ultrafine fiber with a nanoparticle coating was proposed as an effective approach to enhance the laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) signal for metal ions in aqueous systems. It is known that the LIBS technique is very limited when used for liquid sample analysis. On the other hand, in practical applications, many LIBS measurements have been accomplished in a liquid environment. A signal enhancement method for aqueous sample LIBS analysis was presented in this work, where Au nanoparticles and a solid-phase support were combined for the first time for aqueous sample analysis with LIBS. The system operation was relatively simple, which only required Au nanoparticles being dropped onto the surface of porous electrospun ultrafine fibers before LIBS analysis. Significant signal enhancement was achieved due to the integration of the merits of the Au nanoparticles and the ultrafine fibers. Nanoparticles possess significant LIBS signal enhancement effects by providing several plasma ignition points and then causing more efficient emissions. In addition, Au nanoparticles could also help to decrease the breakdown threshold of target elements for LIBS analysis. The electrospun ultrafine fibers as solid-phase support can accommodate a larger volume of aqueous sample. Meanwhile, the aqueous solution on the fiber surface was easy to evaporate. The experimental results showed that the limits of detection (LODs) with this method were significantly improved, 0.5 μg/mL for Cr, 0.5 μg/mL for Pb, and 1.1 μg/mL for Cu, respectively, compared with 2.0 μg/mL for Cr and 3.3 μg/mL for Cu in the previous research. In the proposed method, signal enhancement could be achieved without any extra equipment, which makes the LIBS technique feasible for direct measurement of an aqueous sample.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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