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Elemental Analysis Unit

Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)

ICP-MS laboratory ICP-MS laboratory

Since the first commercial systems in the early 1980´s ICP-MS has firmly consolidated as the technique with the most potential to analyze trace elements and its isotopes in all kind of matrix. ICP-MS can analyze all elements with some exceptions H, He, C, N, O, F, Ne, Ar, Kr, Xe and Cl.


Basics of the technique

• Performance: high sensitivity and low background signals combine to give very low detection limits (sub-µg/l in most cases)
• Wide analytical working range: up to 8 orders in a single acquisition
• Semiquantitative and quantitative multielemental analysis
• Precision: Semiquantitative analysis: < 30%; Quantitative analysis: <5%

ICP-MS also provides isotopic information. Most of the elements shown in color in the figure can be analyzed with detection limits below the part per billion (ppb) range. Elements that are in white are not measurable. The lines shown for each element depict the number and relative abundance of the natural isotopes for that element. This is sometimes referred to as the isotopic fingerprint of the element.

Fundamentals of ICP-MS
The most common sample introduction system consists of a nebulizer and spray chamber. The nebulizer converts the liquid samples into very small droplets. These droplets are carried through the spray chamber and into the torch and then into the Ar plasma at a temperature of 10000 K. The sample is dried, vaporized, atomized and ionized.
These ions pass through the interface to the mass spectrometer.The ions are focused by the ion lens and are separated by their mass-to-charge ratio in a quadrupole and finally are measured by the detector.
It has a large variety of applications in the fields of environmental, geochemical and pharmaceutical analysis, biology, chemistry, namely material...


Organic Chemistry
Pharmaceutical and pharmacology
Chemical Engineering
Structural characterization of material
Geological analysis
Metallurgical analysis

Operation of the laboratory

The solid samples must be presented dried and grinded. The liquid samples must be just prepared and transported in suitable containers. In the case of presenting digested samples it is necessary to accompany them by the corresponding reagent blank.
The samples must go accompanied of the request of analyses generated in WEBLIMS. The user must fill up all the fields of the request that knows, with object to obtain the best possible result.
A request by each lot of samples with similar characteristics must fill up.
If the study to make presents technical or analytical difficulties, it is recommended to put itself in contact with the laboratory before sending the samples, on telephone 914973063.

Laboratory staff and Contact



Cantoblanco Campus


Electronic mail:
E-mail of ICP-MS laboratory
Tel: 91 497 3063
Fax: 91 497 3529


Laboratory Technical Manager
Inmaculada Rivas Ramírez
E-mail of Inmaculada Rivas Ramírez


Cambia a español
Elemental Analysis Unit
Servicio Interdepartamental de Investigación
Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry Laboratory in the Red de Laboratorios of the Comunidad de Madrid. External link Open a new window.
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