The Varied Applications of ICP MS Instruments

Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry is integral to analytical chemistry, typically used for the chemical analysis of a wide variety of compounds and elements. It is a flexible technique that can be customized as per the application needs. ICP MS application is used across industries including environmental studies, exploration of natural resources, mining, healthcare, pharmaceutical, metallurgy, along nuclear and nanotechnology. 

The Principle & Analysis of ICP MS Instrument

ICP MS principle can be defined and explained in the following pointers:

  • A sample liquid is prepared, which contains the analytic.
  • It is pumped through a nebulizer, creating an aerosol. 
  • The aerosol is led into the argon gas plasma. 
  • The plasma has extremely high temperatures up to 5500-6500 kelvin. It atomizes and ionizes the elements in the sample. 
  • Analytic ions are produced and led into a mass spectrometer influenced by the electrostatic ion optic elements. 
  • Inside the mass spectrometer, the ions get dissected into their m/z (mass to charge) ratio, leading to detection. 

Applications of ICP MS Instruments


Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry is extensively used in healthcare, mainly for toxicology. In cases of heavy metal poisoning, issues of hematology, or other metabolic concerns, a doctor might opt for a metal assay that demands precise detection through inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Samples in such cases comprise blood, plasma, serum, urine, RBCs, etc. 

Environmental Studies

The principle is also applicable to environmental studies for elemental analysis of water, soil, and other samples. Instances of such applications can be found in the testing of municipality water, agricultural soil, and a wide array of elements used for industrial purposes. 


In criminology and forensics, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry is popularly used for glass analysis. The trace elements on pieces of glass found at the crime scene can be matched with samples to deduce the suspect in the crime. Other applications in forensics include analysis of metals, car paints, lipstick, printing inks, paper, fingerprint, bones, and teeth, etc.

Health Analysis in Industrial Sector

This is another common application that has become popular in recent years, where the instrument is used to detect the toxicity level of workers in industrial facilities. People working long hours in factories get exposed to different kinds of elements that can be harmful to health. Enterprises conduct routine health analysis by running the toxicology on urine and blood samples of the workers regularly to keep track of the health condition of the employees. 


The ICP-MS instrument is used extensively in the field of geochemistry to conduct radiometric dating on samples. It is used to run an analysis on the relative profusion of varied isotopes, especially in metals like lead and uranium. 

Pharmaceutical Industry

Last but not least, the pharmaceutical industry uses ICP MS for the detection of inorganic impurities and the presence of heavy metals in specific pharmaceutical samples and their source ingredients. The testing is essential for the drug to be considered appropriate for administration.

To summarize, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry is a widely leveraged application across multiple industries owing to its precise calculations and accurate readings.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button