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How ICP MS Instruments Can Benefit Your Industry

ICP MS Instruments

If you have an analytical lab, you need to measure metals in fluids. And while most methods of metal analysis, like Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS) and Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES), are relatively straightforward and easy to use, a third technique is by using Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). 

Agilent’s ICP MS instruments give you peak performance and high productivity for all your routine analysis needs, along with the advantage of access to a complete range of advanced analytical options and expert service. Most industries can benefit from using this instrument to analyze their materials and discover any potential issues with their product, we have listed below how it can benefit your industry:

Benefit Your Industry

Sample preparation

Analyzing trace elements in water is a crucial aspect of environmental monitoring. Traditional methods for extraction are complex and time-consuming; there’s also a potential for cross-contamination. 

With ICP MS instruments, you can identify and measure chemical components in samples quickly, easily, and without contamination. Samples are never opened – so it’s safe to use these lab instruments on air samples or materials that need to be preserved, like drinking water or blood samples. You get fast results and keep lab employees safe!

Process optimization

One of the top reasons ICP MS instruments are used in laboratories is to improve processes. The goals of process optimization with these machines can vary depending on what needs to be analyzed and what you’re trying to accomplish, but they all require strict control over several variables including temperature, sample flow rates, and other aspects that influence data. 

Analyzing process data from an instrument like a mass spectrometer offers clear insight into how best to optimize processes so that measurements are more consistent from run to run and from sample to sample. Looking at these types of results—and analyzing how changes to variables impact them—is one way you ensure things work as planned during production runs.

Safety & compliance

Every component used in these machines is designed to be compatible with a cleanroom environment, allowing for safe handling of biohazardous materials. They’re also certified by regulatory agencies in countries all over the world and come with a range of safety certifications. These include ATEX (explosion protection), FCC (electromagnetic interference), CSA (safety-related components) and UL/CUL (electrical safety). Whether you need to handle explosive gases or highly flammable solvents, our technology will keep you safe while ensuring traceability.

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One of my favorite things about ion chromatography (IC) is its capability to deliver 100% traceability, which means no matter what you’re trying to monitor and track, you can be sure it will do so. It’s possible because IC offers a measure of accuracy that comes with more than one method of analysis. 

The two commonly used methods are mass spectrometry (MS) and ultraviolet-visible (UV/Vis). While each offers a certain level of specific measurements, it’s when they work together that traceability really comes into play. For example, if you have an unknown sample—say grain—you may not know for sure if it’s gone bad or if something has adulterated it.

Manufacturing controls

If you’re running a manufacturing operation, either for industrial purposes or for consumer products, chances are good that it involves some kind of process control instrumentation. That may be as simple as timers on conveyor belts or light-activated switches, but in many cases, that means having analytical instrumentation in place to monitor production processes. 

One common form of lab equipment used in manufacturing is gas chromatography with mass spectrometry (GC/MS). An ICP MS instrument is similar to a GC/MS analyzer but has some important distinctions. If you currently use GC/MS technology and are wondering if it might make sense to switch over to an ICP MS unit, here are three big reasons why.

Environmental monitoring

In order to track water quality, we’re going to want to use some tools. Now, we could invest in expensive hardware that takes samples and plugs them into a computer or other system for analysis. But there’s another option—and it might even save us some money: mass spectrometry. 

This tool lets us test water samples without all of that heavy-duty hardware. So how does it work? Well, you take a sample of water from your lake (or whatever body of water you’re monitoring), run it through an instrument called an ion chromatograph mass spectrometer (ICPMS), and see what comes out. The results give you information about everything from pH levels to metal content. And best of all, they tell you whether things are improving or getting worse over time!

Drug formulation

The development of a successful drug is a long and complicated process. While a new drug is being developed, many samples are tested in labs using high-end analytical equipment, including HPLCs and GCs. One of these tests, called high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), analyzes various characteristics of each sample, including purity and concentration levels. 

To perform an HPLC analysis, certain liquids are placed in vials that must be completely filled with samples; then when appropriate technology is applied to those vials, they travel through analytical tubes very quickly so that they may be read by properly calibrated detectors at precisely calculated times. When done on an industrial scale like this one lab test alone requires tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment to be executed properly.


In addition to environmental benefits and cost savings, there are many other reasons why more businesses are turning to ICP-MS. The technology is continually improving and advancements in new instrument designs make it easier than ever to integrate into workflows. Even if you don’t think you need or want ICP MS instruments, it might be worth discussing with a lab consultant or manufacturer representative before making a final decision. With its ability to offer rapid throughput for routine analysis, as well as its compatibility with other instrumental techniques for advanced sample preparation, analysis, and reporting, an ICP-MS system has quickly become a valuable tool for labs of all types.

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