Practical Guide to ICP-MS: A Tutorial for Beginners, Third Edition, 3rd Edition (Hardback) book cover

Practical Guide to ICP-MS

A Tutorial for Beginners, Third Edition, 3rd Edition

By Robert Thomas

CRC Press

446 pages | 168 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781466555433
pub: 2013-04-25
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Written by a field insider with over 20 years experience in product development, application support, and field marketing for an ICP-MS manufacturer, the third edition of Practical Guide to ICP-MS: A Tutorial for Beginners provides an updated reference that was written specifically with the novice in mind. It presents a compelling story about ICP-MS and what it has to offer, showing this powerful ultra trace-element technique in the way it was intended—a practical solution to real-world problems.

New to the third edition:

  • New chapter: Emerging ICP-MS Application Areas – covers the three most rapidly growing areas: analysis of flue gas desulfurization wastewaters, fully automated analysis of seawater samples using online chemistry procedures, and characterization of engineered nanoparticles
  • Discussion of all the new technology commercialized since the second edition.
  • An updated glossary of terms with more than 100 new entries
  • Examination of nonstandard sampling accessories, which are important for enhancing the practical capabilities of ICP-MS
  • Insight into additional applications in the environmental, clinical/biomedical, and food chemistry fields as well as new directives from the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) on determining impurities in pharmaceuticals and dietary supplements using Chapters <232>, <233> and <2232>
  • Description of the most important analytical factors for selecting an ICP-MS system, taking into consideration more recent application demands

This reference describes the principles and application benefits of ICP-MS in a clear manner for laboratory managers, analytical chemists, and technicians who have limited knowledge of the technique. In addition, it offers much-needed guidance on how best to evaluate capabilities and compare with other trace element techniques when looking to purchase commercial ICP-MS instrumentation.


Praise for the First Edition

"Any new user of ICP-MS or anyone contemplating entering the field will find the Practical Guide to ICP-MS an essential first step. This book demystifies ICP-MS and shows readers just how accessible a technique it really is. … [It] is written clearly and is well organized. … As a practitioner of ICP-MS for more than 20 years, I highly recommend this book as a primer to students, new users, laboratory managers, and users of ICP-MS data. The price of the book is well worth investing for Chapter 20 alone, which deals with the selection criteria for instrument purchase. More-experienced users and teachers will find that this book is a useful source of information on the current state of ICP-MS and its place in analytical atomic spectrometry."

Spectroscopy Magazine

"This book will be particularly useful to students and analytical chemists who are about to use an ICP-MS, and also those in management who might have a basic understanding of atomic spectroscopic techniques but not necessarily ICP-MS. … [The author] hoped the book might find a place on the analyst's desk or by the instrument and would be well used. Indeed, this is where my copy will probably be found."

The Analyst

"… a valuable introduction to the subject for anyone interested in ICP-MS. … [a] highly informative book … . "

Today's Chemist at Work

"…[this book] highlights everything from basic component descriptions and features to guidelines describing where and when…ICP-MS is most appropriately employed….I look forward to seeing this book used in many training programs, classrooms, and analysis laboratories."

—Ramon M. Barnes, Director, University Research Institute of Analytical Chemistry and Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Table of Contents

An Overview of ICP-MS

Principles of Operation

Principles of Ion Formation

Ion Formation

Natural Isotopes

Sample Introduction

Aerosol Generation

Droplet Selection


Spray Chambers

Plasma Source

The Plasma Torch

Formation of an ICP Discharge

The Function of the RF Generator

Ionization of the Sample

Interface Region

Capacitive Coupling

Ion Kinetic Energy

Benefits of a Well-Designed Interface

Ion-Focusing System

Role of the Ion Optics

Dynamics of Ion Flow

Commercial Ion Optic Designs

Mass Analyzers: Quadrupole Technology

Quadrupole Technology

Basic Principles of Operation

Quadrupole Performance Criteria

Mass Analyzers: Double-Focusing Magnetic Sector Technology

Magnetic Sector Mass Spectroscopy: A Historical Perspective

Use of Magnetic Sector Technology for ICP-MS

Principles of Operation of Magnetic Sector Technology

Resolving Power

Other Benefits of Magnetic Sector Instruments

Summing Up

Mass Analyzers: Time-of-Flight Technology

Basic Principles of Time-of-Flight (TOF) Technology

Commercial Designs

Differences between Orthogonal and On-Axis TOF

Benefits of TOF Technology for ICP-MS

Mass Analyzers: Collision/Reaction Cell and Interface Technology

Basic Principles of Collision/Reaction Cells

Different Collision/Reaction Cell Approaches

The Collision/Reaction Interface

Using Reaction Mechanisms in a Collision Cell

The "Universal" Cell

Detection Limit Comparison


Ion Detectors

Channel Electron Multiplier

Faraday Cup

Discrete Dynode Electron Multiplier

Extending the Dynamic Range

Extending the Dynamic Range Using Pulse-Only Mode

Peak Measurement Protocol

Measurement Variables

Measurement Protocol

Optimization of Measurement Protocol

Multielement Data Quality Objectives

Methods of Quantitation

Quantitative Analysis

Semiquantitative Analysis

Isotope Dilution

Isotope Ratios

Internal Standardization

Review of Interferences

Spectral Interferences

Matrix Interferences

Sample Preparation

Collecting the Sample

Preparing the Sample

Grinding the Sample

Sample Dissolution Methods

Choice of Reagents and Standards

Vessels, Containers, and Sample Preparation Equipment

The Environment

The Analyst

Instrument and Methodology

Routine Maintenance

Sample Introduction System

Interface Region

Ion Optics

Roughing Pumps

Air Filters

Other Components to Be Periodically Checked

Final Thoughts on Routine Maintenance

Alternative Sample Introduction Techniques

Laser Ablation

Flow Injection Analysis

Electrothermal Vaporization

Chilled Spray Chambers and Desolvation Devices

Direct Injection Nebulizers (DIN)

Enhanced Productivity Sampling Systems

Coupling ICP-MS with Chromatographic Techniques for Trace Element Speciation

HPLC Coupled with ICP-MS

Chromatographic Separation Requirements

Sample Introduction Requirements

Optimization of ICP-MS Parameters


Common ICP-MS Applications






Other Applications


Emerging ICP-MS Application Areas

The Analysis of Power Plant Flue Gas Desulfurization Wastewaters (FGDW)

Multielement Analysis of Seawater Using Automated Inline Chemistry Procedures

The Characterization of Nanoparticles by ICP-MS

Field Flow Fractionation (FFF) Coupled with ICP-MS

Comparing ICP-MS with Other Atomic Spectroscopic Techniques

Flame Atomic Absorption

Electrothermal Atomization (ETA)

Radial-View ICP Optical Emission

Axial-View ICP Optical Emission

Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry


How to Select an ICP Mass Spectrometer: Some Important Analytical Considerations

Evaluation Objectives

Financial Considerations

The Evaluation Process: A Summary

Final Thoughts

Appendix: Useful Contact Information

Glossary of ICP-MS Terms



About the Author

Robert J. Thomas, GRIC, FRSC is principal of Scientific Solutions, a consulting company based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, that serves the application, training, and technical writing needs of the trace element analysis user community. He has worked in the field of atomic spectroscopy (AS) for almost 40 years, with over 20 years’ experience in ICP-MS applications, product development, and sales and marketing support at Perkin Elmer Instruments, Inc. He has written more than 80 technical publications covering a wide variety of atomic spectroscopic subject matter, from the fundamental principles of the technique, to articles solving real-world application problems with AA, ICP-OES, and ICP-MS analytical instrumentation.

About the Series

Practical Spectroscopy

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Chemistry / Analytic
SCIENCE / Research & Methodology
SCIENCE / Spectroscopy & Spectrum Analysis