Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS)

Equipment available: Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (Agilent 7500cx and 7700x).  The instruments are housed in The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences in a class 1000 cleanroom, adjacent sample / standard preparation facilities housed in a class 100 cleanroom.

The main functions of the ICP MS are:

  • Producing ions and other species in a high temperature plasma.
  • Extraction of ions from the plasma, attenuation of polyatomic interferences.
  • Separation of the ions according to mass charge ratio using a quadrapole mass filter.
  • Detection and data processing.
Booklet: ICP-MS Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry  |  Location Room: 1.27   |   Member of Staff: Mr Paul Lythgoe

Analysis of aqueous solutions

Analysis of aqueous solutions for most elements, but with the notable exception of halides and some metals. The instrument operates in rapid sequential mode to analyse a predetermined list of elements. Detection limits may be as low as 0.01 ppb in solution under the usual operating conditions although 0.1 ppb is more commonly achieved. Polyatomic interferences are attenuated by means of a pressurised octopole collision/reaction cell that can be used with no gas, Helium or Hydrogen as the collision/reaction cell gas.

The instrument can also be coupled to a fully automated High Pressure Liquid Chromatography system primarily for Arsenic and Iodine speciation. 

Sample Preparation


Liquid samples should normally be aqueous, acidifed (typically 2% HNO3 or equivalent), filtered (removing particles > 0.45 um) and with a total dissolved solids content of less than 1000 ppm. Samples not conforming to these requirements may require pretreatment. Non-compliance with these requirements must be drawn to the attention of AGU staff, not least of all to prevent damage to equipment.
Solid samples dissolved by mixed acid digestion, often involving HF. This procedure must be done in the Chemical Laboratory (Room 1.18) in consultation with Dr. Theis. Special training is required (see Dr Polya or Dr. Theis to make arrangements).


All samples to be accompanied by suitable hazard assessments.

Training and Booking system

Training Required
For sample preparation 1 day. Please note that, due to the requirements to clean room protocols, access to the Clean Room for ICP-AES & ICP-MS will be limited to authorised personnel only.

Booking System(Analysis booking code (ICPMSLMI)
Please contact Mr Lythgoe. It is advisable to book at least two weeks in advance for a day. Due to the high demand for this instrument large sample batches may have to be booked two to three months in advance.



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