University Of Cape Town Geology – Quadrupole ICP-MS
The ICP-MS facility is able to analyse a wide range of trace elements (Li to U, excluding elements such as H, C, O, N, and noble gases) in geological and other materials that can be dissolved in an acidic solution, or in the solid state in situ (at the sub-millimeter scale) using laser ablation.
Quantitative trace element measurements in solution mode are performed via calibration using multi-element synthetic certified standard solutions. Precision, accuracy and detection limits are determined through the analysis of USGS or other rock standards, as well as procedural blanks, processed with every sample batch. Sample digestions and dilutions are performed in clean laboratory conditions.
Laser analyses of silicate minerals and glasses are calibrated using well-characterized, homogeneous solid standards, such as NIST glasses. Samples for laser ablation analysis are typically either polished thick sections or polished 25 mm diameter disc mounts. Users should be aware that there are limitations on the size of samples that can be analysed and no guarantees are made for measurements conducted on unpolished specimens. Users should contact ICP-MS lab personnel to find out whether laser ablation or solution analysis is more appropriate for their analytical needs.
Our ICP-MS instrument is a Thermo-Fisher X-Series II quadrupole ICP-MS (installed 2009) with a New Wave UP213 solid-state laser ablation system. The spot size of the laser can be set to various diameters between 10 and 300 microns. The X-series II instrument is equipped with a 48 sample autosampler for automated solution analysis.
The facility is operated by Chief Scientific Officer, Christel Tinguely and supervised by Dr. Phil Janney.