Currently Available Services
Our most popular service is the use of ICP-MS to determine the concentrations of chosen elements from various sample types. We also offer semiquantitative analyses to determine the elemental concentrations in a sample of unknown composition.
The union of HPLC and ICP-MS enables separation and speciation analysis. In collaboration with MS/MS, this can be used for metalloproteomics and protein profiling. We also look forward to exploring emerging techniques, such as determination of chemical state, isotope-specific measurements, and lanthanide labeling.
Acceptable Sample Types
We accept a variety of sample types, including dried, liquid, nebulized, solid, and snap frozen. Samples must be homogenous solutions before they can be analyzed. Samples can be dissolved by following the nitric acid digestion protocol in Preparing Samples or by taking advantage of our lab's sample preparation services (see Pricing for details).
Acceptable environmental samples include fertilizer, soil, and water (including ground, lake, river, sea, and tap water samples), although we cannot currently offer a state-accredited analysis of food or drinking water safety. Usable biological samples include blood, cells (whole pellets and lysates), fish scales, plant matter (including fruits and vegetables), plasma, saliva, serum, tissue (whole or homogenized), and urine. Please follow all relevant guidelines for shipping biological materials. Other admissible samples include animal chow, buffers, growth media, ceramics, and unknown metal samples.
If you have any questions about whether your sample is acceptable, please Contact Us!
Detection limits are in the low parts per trillion (ppt) range for most biologically relevant elements, and in the parts per quadrillion (ppq) range for rare elements, although some elements have higher detection limits. This enables analysis of trace elemental content and of concentrated samples. Hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, fluorine, chlorine, and noble gases are not detectable, nor are actinides, technetium, or osmium. Silicon, phosphorus, sulfur, selenium, and bromine have relatively high detection limits. The following two PDFs are images of periodic tables with ICP-MS detection limits.
The Agilent PDF is specific to our model of ICP-MS:
Agilent 7700 periodic table (218 KB)
The USGS PDF provides more detail on elements and detection limits:
USGS periodic table (207 KB)
For advice on how to handle, process, and transport your samples, please see Preparing Sample Submissions. We offer consultation services if you are interested in a more elaborate project or assistance in planning a future experiment (please refer to Pricing). We can also write the analytical section for your grant application if you wish to collaborate directly, and create a budget for that section. Support for the ICP-MS operator as well as bulk cost analysis will be requested. There is no charge for this service.