Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP), also known as ICP-AES (Atomic Emission Spectrometry) or ICP-OES (Optical Emission Spectrometry) is used to analyse many elements simultaneously, with extremely low levels of detection.
It is used in a wide variety of markets including food and beverage, metals, pharmaceutical, geological, water and cement.
ICP operates using an argon plasma, into which the atomised liquid sample is injected. The sample ionises in the plasma and the ions emit light at different characteristic wavelengths which are then measured.
The argon used for the plasma must have the least amount of oxygen and moisture possible, as these have a shielding effect on the signal for some metals, giving falsely low readings. It also must have the lowest possible THC content, as these can cause carbon deposits which reduces the strength of the signal. Nitrogen is sometimes used as a cooling gas in the ICP.