Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)

Last updated: December 5, 2017

What Does Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) Mean?

Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry is a technique used to analyze the elemental composition of a material. This is done by heating a material with inductively coupled plasma. The plasma turns the material’s atoms into ions. These ions are then evaluated by a mass spectrometer. The information gathered by the mass spectrometer is used to determine the elemental composition of the material.


Corrosionpedia Explains Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)

Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry is used to identify the presence of many metals and some non-metals in a material. It is especially useful for identifying rare-earth elements.

The material being evaluated must be in a gaseous or aerosol form at the time of analysis. If the original material is a liquid, it is typically converted into a mist by nebulization. If the material is a solid it is typically vaporized.

Argon is usually used as the plasma gas for inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. A flow of argon is brought through the torch and then a spark from a power source ionizes it. Once converted to plasma, it can achieve temperatures over 6,000°C (10,832°F).

There are many benefits to inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry over other forms of mass spectrometry. However, the advantages and disadvantages of each type of mass spectrometry must be evaluated to determine which is best for a particular application.


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