Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry – ICP-MS

In ICP-MS, an inductively coupled plasma (ICP) uses argon gas plasma to decompose the sample into its constituent atoms or singly-charged ions.... Read More

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    Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry

    Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) is a highly sensitive elemental analysis technique that determines trace (ppb and ppt) and major concentrations of the sample elements. While it is used to determine trace multi-elemental and isotopic concentrations in liquid, solid, and gaseous samples, it is most frequently used for total quantification of trace metal analysis in liquid samples. It is a high-resolution technique for the quantitative analysis and speciation studies of materials, from superalloys to high-purity materials in a wide range of industries from semiconductors, geology, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, oil & gas, food, and agriculture.

    In ICP-MS, an inductively coupled plasma (ICP) uses argon gas plasma to decompose the sample into its constituent atoms or singly-charged ions. These ions are then directed to the mass spectrometer (MS), where they are separated based on the ion’s mass to charge ratio (m/z), and each mass range is filtered sequentially. The electron multiplier detects the ions, and mass spectra are displayed. The concentration of the elements is determined by comparing the intensity of the ion signal with the standards.

    Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) Common Uses

    • Measurement of trace elements in the biological samples
    • Determination of toxic elements in the food samples
    • Monitoring of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, and chromium in pharmaceutical products
    • Maximizing wafer production by ultralow detection of elemental impurities in chemicals and materials
    • Analysis of halogenated volatile organic compounds released in seawater samples
    • Quantification of multiple elements present in pesticide mixture


    • Short analysis time
    • Very low detection limit (0.0005-1.0ppb)
    • Dynamic measuring range of over several orders of magnitude
    • Able to measure multiple elements (up to 70) in a single analysis
    • Able to detect the composition of the isotopes in complex geological and environmental samples
    • Polyatomic isobaric interference signals can be eliminated using pressurized collision cells and reaction chambers
    • Able to act as a selective detector in hyphenated techniques


    • Multiple high-purity gases are required for the analysis
    • High operating and maintenance cost of the equipment
    • High purity grade reagents must be used
    • Formation of polyatomic interferences through interactions of the carrier gas, entrained atmospheric gases, and sample components


    • Pharmaceuticals
    • Additive Manufacturing
    • Advanced Materials
    • Mining and Minerals
    • Semiconductors
    • Semiconductors

    Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) Laboratories

    • Galbraith Laboratories, Inc.
    • EAG Laboratories Inc.
    • NJ Labs
    • Intertek
    • Laboratory Testing, Inc.
    • Smithers
    • Pacific Bio Labs
    • Westmoreland Mechanical Testing & Research
    • VHG Labs, Inc.
    • Lucideon group
    • NAMSA

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      FAQs on Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry – ICP-MS

      Where Can I Do ICP-MS Analysis Of Materials?

      Our network of material testing labs regularly provides inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) testing services for trace elements and ultra-trace analysis in high-purity materials.

      How much does inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) analysis cost?

      Elemental analysis with inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), including sample prep, starts from $400/sample.

      What is inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) used for?

      Due to its high sensitivity, inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is the preferred technique for detecting and analyzing trace amounts to major concentrations of all elements. Other uses include trace level impurities detection, heavy metal speciation studies in pharmaceuticals, metals analysis in wafer surfaces, etc.

      What are ICP-MS and ICP-AES analyses?

      ICP elemental analysis involves ionization of samples by extremely hot plasma. These excited ions are detected by either a mass spectroscopy unit inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) or via atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES). While ICP-AES can detect in the ppb range, ICP-MS can detect much lower concentrations down to ppt (parts per trillion).

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