Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry is a useful technique for the precise determination of major, minor and trace element distributions or isotope ratios in solid samples and biological tissue sections. However, measured ion intensities of selected mass-to-charge ratios, may vary considerably from run to run and might also underlie non-linear drift within a run. Therefore, beside the calibration of the measurement, normalization of ion intensities to a reference such as an internal standard is necessary. Other strategies use an endogenous reference element of which a homogenous distribution in the sample is assumed, or derive a more complex reference parameter from a given dataset. Generally, normalization methods depend on the experimental setup and sample material and are usually based on one or few isotopes or the total ion current. This chapter reports different normalization methods that either used a separate reference value for each data point – constituting a pixel in the isotope image – or used a constant normalization factor per measurement run. In conclusion, normalization is essential to minimize deviations of element concentrations due to measurement-related fluctuations. Normalization and definition of an area of interest are powerful tools to obtain high-contrast isotope images with absolute element concentrations.
Part of the book: Applications of Laser Ablation