Introduction to ICP-MS

Magnetic sector field inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) combines an argon (Ar) ICP source with a double focusing analyser to perform trace/ultra-trace metal analysis and/or isotope ratio measurement.

Samples, usually in solution form reach the plasma as aerosol after passing through a nebulizer and a spray chamber/desolvator. Different sample introduction systems can be coupled to the instrument allowing direct analysis such as laser ablation, gas chromatography…  At the high temperature attained in the plasma source, most elements including those with higher ionization potentials can be almost completely atomized and ionized. A portion of the ions generated are then accelerated and extracted through a series of cones and lenses to the mass spectrometer. Magnetic sector field ICP-MS can achieve higher resolution than quadrupole ICP-MS, allowing the effect of interferences due to mass overlap to be reduced or eliminated. The double focusing geometry including an electrostatic sector and a magnetic sector allows elimination of the energy spread and separation of ion beams based on their mass to charge ratios. Magnetic sector field ICP-MS can be fitted with a single collector for elemental/isotope ratio analysis or multiple collectors to facilitate simultaneous detection of ion beams for high precision isotope ratio analysis.     

The fast, versatile magnetic sector field ICP-MS technique, benefiting from the superior ionization of the ICP source and its high-resolution capability, is the technique of choice for elemental analysis and isotopic analysis in a large number of application fields.