In situ and rapid analysis of organic compounds using a combination of a newly-developed laser ablation in liquid (LAL) sampling technique combined with electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) is reported. The LAL is a technique that allows laser ablation to be conducted in a liquid medium containing organic compounds that were effectively extracted from solid materials into the liquid medium. Three organic compounds (valine, caffeine, and benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP)) were subjected to analysis. The LAL sampling was conducted in the fast-laser scanning mode using Galvanometric optics, and the total ablation time required for the sampling from a 1 mm2 area was about 3 s, thus providing rapid sampling. The resulting sample solution was directly introduced into the ESI-MS system, without the need for any chromatographic separation. To evaluate the analytical capability of the LAL technique coupled with ESI-MS, both the overall transmission efficiencies of analytes from solid materials to the ion detector, and the repeatabilities of the measurements were rigorously tested. This involved the use of synthetic, in-house prepared standard materials containing the analytes. The overall ion yields were about 1.1×10−3% for valine, 8.7×10−3% for caffeine, and 6.7×10−4% for BBP. By comparing the ion yields obtained by the injection of an analyte solution and a standard solution through the mass spectrometer, the recoveries through the LAL sampling were approximately 31% for valine, 45% for caffeine, and 37% for BBP. In addition, the analytical repeatabilities for all analytes were better than 6%. The analytical repeatabilities were mainly affected by either the heterogeneity of the in-house standard materials or changes in the plasma temperature by coexisting, laser-induced sample particles. It should be noted that not only water-soluble compounds (caffeine and valine), but also non-soluble compound (BBP) could be measured by the LAL-ESI-MS, which is one of the great advantages over the conventional liquid extraction surface analysis technique. The data obtained here clearly demonstrate that the LAL-ESI-MS has the potential for being a fast and user-friendly analytical technique for the in-situ detection for both the water-soluble and water-insoluble molecules.
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