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ICP-MS Laboratory

The Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) laboratory is equipped with a Thermo Fisher Element-XR magnetic sector ICP-MS and a New Wave Research UP193 Solid-State laser ablation system. The Element-XR allows measurement of isotopes from 6Li through 238U at three resolution modes; low (m/Δm = 300), medium (m/Δm = 4,000) and high (m/Δm = 10,000). The extended linear dynamic range of 1012 counts per second allows for improved quantification of major and trace elements in the same analysis sequence as long as detector cross calibration is properly done. The instrumentation allows for bulk sample analysis via sample digestion and solution aspiration (SA) ICP-MS, and in situ analysis via laser ablation (LA) ICP-MS.

Space in the ARES clean chemistry laboratory is set aside for sample dissolution for SA-ICP-MS. An Elemental Scientific SC-E2 Autosampler is used to automatically control the analysis sequence for SA-ICP-MS. An Apex Q desolvating nebulizer is available for enhancing sensitivity of SA-ICP-MS analyses for samples of limited mass (clasts in breccias, chondrules, etc.), or with low elemental concentrations (dunites, orthopyroxenites, etc.).

The laser ablation system operates at 193 nm wavelength, which improves the coupling with some types of geological materials over that obtained with longer wavelength UV laser systems. The spot size can be varied from 2 to 110 µm to allow for fine- to coarse-scale analysis of phases by LA-ICP-MS. The pulse length is <3 ns and allows for depth profiling at <50 nm per shot. The maximum repetition rate is 10 Hz, with an irradiance at the sample of >2 GW cm-2 and fluence at the sample of >5 J cm-2.

The ICP-MS laboratory has wide ranging analysis capabilities for the accurate and precise quantification of element concentrations from the micro-scale to bulk samples, including natural materials (e.g., meteorites, lunar rocks, terrestrial rocks, minerals), experimental run products (astromaterials stimulants) and other man-made, non-organic materials.

Lab Leads
David Mittlefehldt (281-483-5043), NASA
ICP-MS Lab Instruments
ICP-MS Lab Instruments