Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) – ICP-MS utilizes the same flame technique as described in ICP-OES whereby a prepared sample is aspirated continuously into an inductively coupled, argon plasma discharge and ionized at high temperature. Once converted into ions, they are brought into the mass spectrometer where they are focused by electrostatic lenses where they are separated by their mass-to-charge ratio which allows the ICP-MS to supply isotopic information of each element of interest. The quantitative concentration of an element is determined through calibration of the detector with known concentrations of standards on the basis of the separated ions respective mass-to-charge ratio as they are received by the detector with an ion signal that is proportional to the concentration.
Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP – OES) – ICP-OES is also known as ICP-AES (atomic emission spectroscopy) is a flame technique used to determine trace elements in prepared samples. Argon gas flows through an ICP torch is ignited and ionized in an electromagnetic field where a high temperature plasma of approximately 7000 K is generated. An appropriately prepared sample is aspirated (i.e. nebulized) continuously into this inductively coupled, argon-plasma discharge where the excitation temperatures can reach approximately 7,000 K. The elements (atoms) of interest reach an excited state and will emit energy in the form of light upon their return to the ground state at wavelengths characteristic of each specific element. The intensity of light emission is measured at each specific wavelength and compared to previously measured intensities of known concentrations of the elements. The concentration of each element is computed by interpolation along the calibration lines established.
ICP-Analysis has low detection limits for chemical determination, making it a useful tool for quality control applications, contamination analysis and more.