ICP analysis (ICP-MS and ICP-AES/ICP-OES) in a laboratory

What do we mean by ICP analysis?

ICP is an abbreviation of “Inductively Coupled Plasma” which is an analytical technique which measures the inorganic contents of a sample. This technique is applicable to all kinds of chemical elements.

ICP analysis has multiple steps: first of all, a solid sample must be dissolved using a strong acid or a mix of strong acids or using microwaves. This is called mineralization. The mixture is then injected using Argon plasma and put at a very high temperature. These thermal stimuli lead to the sample being ionized and the different elements separating from each other allowing for the sample to be characterized and to detect each element depending on the type of analyzer being used. 

FILAB owns about fifteen ICP machines but most importantly, we are the first laboratory in France to own an ICP-MS/MS!

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At FILAB we have two types of analyzers in our Laboratory:

  • ICP coupled to Atomic emission spectrometers (ICP-AES) which measure the wave lengths of light emitted by ions

  • ICP coupled to Mass Spectrometers (ICP-MS) with which the elements are analyzed based on their charge and mass.

The combination of ICP-AES and ICP-MS machines allows us to determine a wide variety of inorganic elements and elemental impurities at once with extreme reliability and precision (down to a few ppt or ppb depending on the matrix).

ICP-AES or ICP-MS: what’s the difference?

ICP analysis is used to meet many types of industrial needs:

  • To confirm the chemical composition of a mixture

  • To confirm that productions comply with a scope statement, with a safety data sheet (SDS) or with a supplier’s own specifications

  • To verify that a formula or a material complies with relevant standards, imposing quantification thresholds

  • To detect an elemental impurity causing a defect to appear in the finished product

  • Analysis of poor metals: Aluminum, Thallium, Indium…

  • To detect trace amounts of heavy metals: Arsenic As, Lead Pb, Cadmium Cd, Mercury Hg…

  • To characterize an unknown deposit

  • To register a new mineral material when double sourcing

  • To reverse engineer a substance to be able to compare its chemical makeup to that of similar substances

  • Single Particle SP-ICP-MS analysis of nanoparticles 

FILAB performs inorganic analysis using ICP-MS or ICP-AES on all types of matrices and can also:

  • Develop your own techniques

  • Transfer our techniques to your laboratory staff

  • Validate protocols in accordance with relevant guidelines

  • Analytically train your teams either on your site or here at FILAB 

Discover examples of possible applications for ICP-AES or ICP-MS depending on your field:

Here are a few examples of applications specific to your field: 

  • Medical devices

  • Pharmaceuticals

  • The Environment

  • Cosmetics

  • Automotive and aeronautics

The positive aspects of FILAB

  • A highly qualified team

  • Responsiveness in responding to and processing requests

  • A complete analytical park of 2100m²

  • Tailor-made support

ICP coupled with atomic emission spectrometers (ICP-AES) is an analytical tool that can be used for the elemental analysis of samples. The combination of ICP and AES provides a very sensitive and accurate method for analysing the concentrations of many different elements present in a sample. This technique is widely used in the metallurgy, pharmaceutical and food industries. ICP-AES has been widely adopted by laboratories around the world because of its accuracy and cost effectiveness.

The method involves introducing a sample into an ICP source which excites the atoms in the sample with an electric arc or laser beam to produce characteristic emission lines based on the atomic structure of each atom present. These emission lines are measured and analysed to determine the concentration of each element in the sample. The ICP-AES method is capable of detecting most elements at concentrations as low as parts per million.

In addition to its accuracy and cost effectiveness, one of the advantages of ICP-AES is that it can be used on a variety of sample types - solid samples, liquid samples or even gases can be analysed. It also requires minimal sample preparation and very little instrument maintenance. For these reasons, ICP-AES has become one of the most popular techniques for elemental analysis in many industries

Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) spectrometry is a technique used to measure the concentration of elements in samples. It involves introducing a sample into an ICP source, which excites the atoms in the sample with an electric arc or laser beam and produces characteristic emission lines based on the atomic structure of each element present. These emission lines can then be measured and analysed to determine the concentration of each element in the sample. ICP is an accurate and cost-effective method for elemental analysis and is widely used by laboratories around the world.

ICP spectroscopy has many applications in various sectors and fields. It can be used to analyse soil, wastewater, food and other environmental samples. It is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry to measure trace elements in drugs, as well as for quality assurance purposes. ICP spectroscopy can also be used in forensics and archaeology to analyse samples from crime scenes or ancient artefacts. In addition, it is a valuable tool for precious metals analysis, helping companies to determine the exact composition of gold, silver and platinum alloys. In general, ICP spectroscopy can be used for many different analytical applications requiring elemental analysis.

Thomas ROUSSEAU Scientific and Technical Director
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