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Glossary


inductively coupled plasma


The inductively coupled plasma (ICP) is the most widely used source for atomic emission and inorganic mass spectrometry. A "flame-like" plasma is sustained by means of a radiofrequency electric current via an induction coil (electrode-less) within a flowing plasma gas (mostly argon, but other gases such as Helium, Nitrogen or Air are principally possible). The plasma gas is transported into the discharge region via a quartz torch providing different channels structuring the gas-flow so that the high temperature plasma (ionised argon) does not melt the discharge container and the sample stream can be injected into the highly viscous plasma. The plasma with its very high temperature in the range of 7000-8000K efficiently desolvates, vaporizes, dissociates, atomizes, excites, and ionizes  samples introduced as gases, vapors or aerosols.  In this way, the ICP can be used as an atomizer and excitation source for atomic spectrometry (AES, AFS) or as an ion source for mass spectrometry (ICP-MS).   
 


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