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ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry) is a type of mass spectrometry[?] that is highly sensitive and capable of simultaneous analysis of a range of metals at the parts per a billion level. It is based on coupling together an inductively coupled plasma as an ion source with a mass spectrometer as a method of detecting the ions.

1. ICP (Inductively Coupled Plasma) - this is a high temperature plasma (ionised argon) sustained with a magnetic field, which acts to produce ions.

2. MS (Mass spectrometry) the ions from the plasma are extracted through a series of cones into a mass spectrometer, usually a quadrupole. The ions are separated on the basis of their mass-to-charge ratio and a detector receives an ion signal proportional to the concentration.

The concentration of a sample can be determined through calibration with elemental standards.

ICP-AES (Atomic Emission Spectrometer) uses the ICP to produce excited atoms which emit radiation (at a wavelength characteristic of a particular element), which can then be detected (signal is proportional to concentration).

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