...means inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. We use a ThermoFinnigan Element2 for the quantitative analysis of trace and ultratrace elements and isotope ratios in geological and non-geological samples. Most elements of the periodic system can be analyzed.

How it works

The sample material is introduced into the inductively coupled plasma as an aerosol using an argon carrier gas. Aerosol particles are generated either by nebulizing a sample solution or by ablating solid material with a laser. When carried through the hot plasma (5000-7000 °C), the sample material is being dissociated, atomized and ionized within milliseconds. The ions enter the mass spectrometer via the so-called plasma interface, after which they become mass- and energy-filtered and the intensities of individual masses (isotopes) determined.

Sample types

A large variety of liquid and solid samples can be analyzed. Since for solution ICP-MS the analyte needs to be a liquid, solid materials are dissolved by using ultrapure acids and procedures depending on the sample type. Carbonates are simply dissolved in diluted nitric acid. Silicate rocks can be decomposed only by using a cocktail of concentrated nitric acid, hydrochloric acid and hydrofluoric acid and heating at ca. 145 °C in a teflon beaker. For in-situ laser ablation ICP-MS, the sample can be any type of solid.

The Element2

This is a high-resolution, double-focussing ICP mass spectrometer having an extremely high sensitivity. Limits of detection are on the order of 1 ppt (= 1 part per trillion = 0.000000000001 g per ml) or better for many elements and are generally better than 100 ppt.

Laboratory equipment:

  • High-resolution double-focussing ICP-MS ThermoFinnigan Element2
  • NewWave UP193ss laser ablation system
  • Autosampler ESI SC-E2 for 2 x 60 samples
  • Mobile clean-air cabinet by PicoTrace to prevent sample contamination prior to and during analysis
  • Clean lab with RLK clean-air cabinets by PicoTrace and Sartorius arium water purification unit
  • Sample digestion lab with an EvapoClean digestion system and PicoTrace closed subboiling system for producing ultrapure acids (HNO3)

User regulations ICP-MS