How it works
The sample material is injected into the inductively coupled plasma as an aerosol with argon as the carrier gas. The aerosol particles are generated either by sputtering a sample solution or by ablation of a solid using a laser. In the hot plasma (5000-7000 °C), the sample is dissociated, atomized and ionized within milliseconds. The ions enter the mass spectrometer through the so-called plasma interface. There they are filtered according to mass and energy and the intensities of the individual masses (isotopes) are determined.
A variety of liquid and solid samples can be analyzed. For solution ICP-MS, the sample must be in liquid form, which is often achieved by dissolving it in ultra-pure acids. While carbonates can already be dissolved in dilute nitric acid, silicate rocks require a mixture of concentrated nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, and hydrofluoric acid and heating to 145 °C in a Teflon beaker. Many types of solids can be used for in-situ laser ablation ICP-MS.
The ThermoFinnigan Element2 is a high-resolution, double-focussing ICP mass spectrometer for quantitative analysis of trace and ultratrace elements and isotope ratios in geological and non-geological samples with extremely high sensitivity. Detection limits of many elements are in the range of 1 ppt (= 1 part per trillion = 0.000000000001 g per ml) or better.
- High-resolution double-focussing ICP-MS ThermoFinnigan Element2
- NewWave UP193ss laser ablation system
- Autosampler ESI SC-E2 for 2 x 60 samples
- Mobile clean-air cabinet by PicoTrace to prevent sample contamination prior to and during analysis
- Clean lab with RLK clean-air cabinets by PicoTrace and Sartorius arium water purification unit
- Sample digestion lab with an EvapoClean digestion system and PicoTrace closed subboiling system for producing ultrapure acids (HNO3)