Analytical Mass Spectrometry (AMS)
The AMS applications group of the ABRF specialises in the analysis of small molecular weight organic and inorganic compounds as well elemental species. The AMS applications group currently has two instruments (plus additional support equipment):
- GC-MS (Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometer)
- HR-ICP-MS (High-Resolution Inductively-Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer)
GC-MS is used extensively for many analyses in the medical/clinical, environmental, pharmacological, forensic, pesticide, petrochemical, and explosive fields to name a few. For example, several US EPA Methods stipulate the use of GC-MS for the analysis of environmental toxics/contaminants. Also, the analysis for drugs of abuse is routinely performed using GC-MS by forensic, law enforcement and elite sport testing laboratories. A more comprehensive list of substances which may be analysed by GC-MS can be found by clicking here.
ICP-MS instruments are used for measuring elements (and their isotopes) found in the periodic table. An ICP-MS is generally capable of analysing more elements than an ICP-OES* instrument and is also able to measure them at much lower detection limits (generally up to 3 orders of magnitude). Further, ICP-MS does not nearly suffer from the same degree of spectral inferences that can hamper analyses by ICP-OES. Typical samples analysed with an ICP-MS are from environmental, biological/medical and geochemical/geological sources. Upon introduction into the instrument, the sample components are atomised and ionised in an argon plasma (see picture below) where temperatures are in the range of 6000-10000OC. From here the sample is drawn into the mass spectrometer by a high vacuum pumping system and focused onto the detector.
ICP-MS instruments fit into either one of two categories: (1) quadrupole ICP-MS (ICP-qMS), or (2) high-resolution ICP-MS (HR-ICP-MS). The latter is also sometimes referred to as a Sector-Field ICP-MS (SF-ICP-MS or ICP-SFMS).
More information about ICP-MS can be found by clicking here.
* ICP-OES = Inductively-Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometer (syn. ICP-AES (ICP-Atomic Emission Spectrometer))