Factors to Ponder On When Choosing an ICP-MS Instrument

ICP-MS (inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry) is an analytical method for measuring substances in biological fluids at trace levels. While some laboratories still employ earlier techniques like atomic absorption and atomic emission, there’s been a gradual trend toward ICP-MS, notably over the last decade. Clinical scientists ought to be aware of the analytical characteristics of ICP-MS and the possibility for both spectroscopic and non-spectroscopic interference, as this transition is expected to continue. Before buying an ICP-MS instrument, there are a few things to think about. Three of the most critical factors are discussed in this article.

  • Installation

The instrument’s installation and location may not appear to be an apparent assessment concern at first, but it may be critical, mainly if space is restricted. Is the instrument, for instance, freestanding or bench-mounted? Perhaps you have a bench but not enough floor area, or vice versa. The instrument may require a temperature-controlled environment to obtain accurate mass calibration and consistency. Have you planned for this type of expenditure if that’s the scenario? Is it necessary to place the instrument in class 1, 10, or 100 cleanrooms to utilize it for ultra-trace detection levels? If so, how big is the room, and do the roughing pumps have to get moved somewhere else? To put it another way, it’s critical to completely comprehend the installation needs for every instrument under consideration, as well as where you will install it.

  • Usability

Analytical performance is a critical feature in most scenarios when determining which ICP MS instruments to buy. However, most of today’s equipment gets run by chemists at the technician stage. They typically have some familiarity with trace-element methods like atomic absorption (AA) spectroscopy or ICP-OES, but they cannot be called ICP-MS specialists. As a result, the usability features of a system may compete with its analytical performance as the essential selection consideration, especially if the application does not require the highest level of detection capabilities. While usability will be in the eye of the beholder, there are more fundamental considerations to be made.

  • Interference removal

The reduction of interference ensures that reliable results are achieved on a regular basis. The two main interference elimination techniques are the collision reaction cell (CRC) technique and the high resolution (HR) technique. CRC is the most frequent technique in quadrupole ICP-MS. Single quadrupoles and triple quadrupoles are the two varieties of quadrupoles (TQ). In the former, CRC gets often employed with an inert gas such as hydrogen. These configurations are more common and less costly. Reactive gases get used in most TQ-ICP-MS equipment in a manner that permits for more exact interference reduction. That has limits of detection (LODs), but it comes at a greater price. HR technology, which uses minor changes in nominal mass between the analyte of interest and the interference to segregate them physically, is different. It’s far more open than CRC technology. Still, it is more expensive, and it is more likely to be utilized in metrology and precise applications with meager detection limits.

Get ready to spend several months assessing the market if you want to locate the best ICP MS instruments for your application requirements. Remember to prioritize your goals and provide a scaling factor to each one depending on how important they are for the sorts of data you’ll be analyzing. Take the assessment in the path you want it to follow, not the one the dealer wants it to follow.