Applied Physics A

, Volume 101, Issue 1, pp 121-126

First online:

Ablation and analysis of small cell populations and single cells by consecutive laser pulses

  • Bindesh ShresthaAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, George Washington University
  • , Peter NemesAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, George Washington University
  • , Akos VertesAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, George Washington University Email author 

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Laser ablation of single cells through a sharpened optical fiber is used for the detection of metabolites by laser ablation electrospray ionization (LAESI) mass spectrometry (MS). Ablation of the same Allium cepa epidermal cell by consecutive pulses indicates the rupture of the cell wall by the second shot. Intracellular sucrose heterogeneity is detected by subsequent laser pulses pointing to rupturing the vacuolar membrane by the third exposure. Ion production by bursts of laser pulses shows that the drying of ruptured A. cepa cells occurs in ∼50 s at low pulse rates (10 pulses/s bursts) and significantly faster at high pulse rates (100 pulses/s bursts). These results point to the competing role of cytoplasm ejection and evaporative drying in diminishing the LAESI-MS signal in ∼50 s or 100 laser pulses, whichever occurs first.