Everything You Need to Know about ICP-MS

ICP-MS can be referred to as Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry. It is a type of instrument used in a laboratory to test components available in biological fluids at trace levels. This technique has improved the older ones, such as atomic emission and absorption. But in some laboratories, some of these older techniques are still being used. Lab managers advise lab technicians to start purchasing ICP-MS to obtain accurate results. According to the managers, there are a lot of fundamentals of ICP-MS you will enjoy when you think of introducing the instrument in your laboratory uses. Read the following information to understand the basics of inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry.  

  • ICP-MS structure  

ICP is the best ionization source for mass spectrometry and can ionize up to 90% of several components. After producing ions in the ICP, they are transferred to the mass analysis unit through a unit called the sampling interface. The sampling interface comprises two metallic cones, a skimmer cone, and a sampling cone. There is a rotary gear pump between the sampling cone and skimmer cone. The ions drawn by the sampling and the skimmer cone are settled in a known mass spectrophotometer using the ion lens. This is where an ion detector will detect the ions for measurement.  

  • Various measurements were done using an ICP-MS 

ICP-MS instrument is the best when it comes to various elements measurement. Almost all the components found in a periodic table can be measured using the ICP-MS. Some elements are measured and analyzed through detection limits. Measurements done with this instrument are mainly quantitative but are also a semi-quantitative instrument. You can read about 70 elements when using a semi-quantitative package in a few minutes. As far as human health is concerned, knowing the level of isotopic composition in a sample is recommended.  

  • Breakdown on how the instrument work  

Before starting a measurement using this instrument, you should know how it works. Samples are placed in argon plasma in the form of aerosol droplets. In the chamber, the aerosol is dried, molecules are dissociated, and electrons from the element are eliminated. This process will produce singly-charged irons transferred to the mass filtering unit for mass range scanning. Only one mass-to-charge ratio can move to the exit through the mass spectrometer at a given time.  

  • Why you should work with the best interface  

When analyzing an element aqueous using a set of the operating system, the benefits of a well-designed interface might not be discovered. But everything is made transparent when you analyze different sample types that need a variety of operating parameters. The best results are obtained when the plasma condition and matrix change or when placing the dry component of aerosol into the ICP-MS. The process can induce secondary discharge, kinetic energy change of the ions passed to the mass spectrometer unit, and improve the ion optics turning.  

Using ICP-MS is interesting because of the results that it produces. You will find similarities between the instrument and other measurement instruments in a lab. In a lab, you might find devices such as Atomic Absorption and ICP Optical Emission Spectrometry used for the same measurements. The easiest way to know or discover the elemental content is using the ICP-MS. You can use this instrument in measuring so many elements found in a laboratory. This is why most lab technicians have seen the fundamentals of ICP-MS.


Sneha Shukla

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