Since early 2000, Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometey (LA-ICP-MS) has proven to be a sensitive and versatile method for trace element analysis of gemstones. LA-ICP-MS allows access to a distinctly wider range of elements than traditional XRF methods, but also to a much better detection limit (especially for light elements such as Lithium, Beryllium, Boron and Sodium), and to different isotopes of the same element. Most of the gemmological studies have been conducted using LA-ICP-Quadrupole-MS setup, which measures isotopes of interest one after another.
Recently, a highly sensitive and novel elemental analytical system, LA-ICP-Time Of Flight-MS, has been introduced into the market. The system allows simultaneous acquisition of the full mass spectrum. In late 2015, SSEF initiated an evaluation project with three leading companies worldwide focusing on implementing such a system at the SSEF laboratory in Basel, Switzerland. The final system was installed in July 2016 at SSEF and is now in operation.