Comprehensive and Fast Multi-Elemental Analysis using Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES)

Metals Analysis and Remediation
Oral Presentation

Presented by M. Mourgas
Prepared by M. Cassap, S. Antonio
Thermo Fisher Scientific, Im Steingrund 4-6, Dreieich, Hess, 63303, Germany

Contact Information: ;


In the toolbox for the analysis of trace elements in all kinds of samples, ICP-OES plays an important role due to its great robustness and tolerance to a wide variety of sample matrices. At the same time, ICP-OES offers detection limits as low as a few µg∙L-1 for the analysis of trace contaminants. Its multi-elemental capability, allowing screening of up to 60 elements in a single aspiration of a sample, also provides time and cost efficiencies. Therefore, ICP-OES has gained great importance for the routine analysis of waters and soils, food and feed, and samples from industrial processes such as lubricating oils and coolants, or rocks and ores in metallurgical plants. This is reflected in numerous regulated methods featuring ICP-OES as the technique of choice, such as EPA regulations 200.7 or 6010B.

One of the major benefits of ICP-OES over ICP-MS is its ability to cope with a wide variety of different sample matrices, and to easily tolerate higher amounts of total dissolved solids, often encountered in typical environmental sample types such as waste waters, soil digests or fracking flowback solutions. A vertical torch design may offer significant improvements in matrix tolerance, but it needs to be robust and easy to maintain in the busy routine laboratory.

Depending on the sample type and the required elements for analysis, optical emission occurs in the range of visible light or in the UV range of the optical spectrum. Key analytes with emission lines in the UV region such as arsenic, phosphorous or aluminum, are often regulated. With current instrumentation, only sequential scanning of both emission ranges is possible, leading to extended measurement times per sample and therefore higher cost per sample. Improvements to the optical design provide a better separation of UV-emitting analytes against the emission of e.g. residual gas (for example oxygen and nitrogen from ambient air).

This presentation will show how modern ICP-OES instruments such as the Thermo Scientific iCAP PRO ICP-OES can tackle both sample matrix related as well as interference related challenges, and ultimately help to get better results for challenging sample matrices.