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Inductively Coupled Plasma Source Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)

Method description

Inductively coupled plasma source mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is a very sensitive analytical method of inorganic mass spectrometry

for rapid multi-element determination in the trace and ultratrace range of environmental samples, biological, medical, geological and radioactive sample materials and technical products. The chemical compounds contained in the sample solution are decomposed into the atomic constituents in an inductively coupled plasma and ionized with a high degree of ionization (> 90 % for most chemical elements) with a small portion of multiply positively charged ions (1 %). The positively charged ions are extracted from the inductively coupled plasma through an interface into the high vacuum of the mass spectrometer and separated in the mass-spectrometric separation system according to their mass/charge ratio and energy/charge ratio and detected by a secondary electron multiplier. By means of double-focussing sector-field ICP-MS it is possible to separate isobaric interferences of disturbing molecular and atomic ions of the analyte (e.g. 56Fe+ and 40Ar16O+).

Features of ICP-MS

  • Rapid quasi-simultaneous multi-element determination in aqueous solutions (no homogeneity problems) in the trace and ultratrace range.
  • Analysis times of generally a few minutes per sample; for solid samples, an often time-consuming sample preparation (e.g. digestion, matrix separation) must be taken into account.
  • High accuracy and reproducibility of the analysis results using standard solutions for the calibration of the analytical procedure (RSD: 3-10 %).
  • The instrumental detection limits are between 0,001 and 0,1 ng/L for most chemical elements.
  • Rapid semiquantitative general analysis of unknown sample solutions.
  • Possibility of precise isotope ratio determination and isotope dilution analysis.

Digestion methods

for a large variety of solid samples, oils, tars, organic samples, biomasses:

  • microwave-induced digestions in acid mixtures;
  • fusion.

Instrumental equipment

  • double-focussing sector-field ICP-MS "ELEMENT" (Thermo, Bremen);
  • quadrupole-ICP-MS "ELAN 6100" (Perkin Elmer, Sciex), automatic sample collector (microconcentric nebulizer, ultrasonic nebulizer, laser ablation system);
  • quadrupole-ICP-MS Agilent 7500 ce with octopole collision cell;
  • coupling with a laser ablation system for laser ablation ICP-MS (LA-ICP-MS) Þ direct solid-state analysis

ICP-MS analysis examples

ultratrace analysis of water samples (ultrapure water, river, lake, groundwater and waste water samples); precise isotope analyses (Ca, Mg, K, U, Pu); trace and isotope analysis of long-lived radionuclides; micro- and trace analysis of biological and environmentally relevant materials (urine, blood, tissue samples); analysis of geological samples; ultratrace analysis of impurities on semiconductor surfaces), trace and ultratrace analysis of pure solids (e.g. ultrapure metals, alloys, semiconductors, non-conductors and ceramics).


Herr Dr. V. Nischwitz Tel.: 02461-61 1673