Department of Chemistry

Inductively-Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)

What is ICP-MS?

ICP-MS is an instrumental method for measuring chemical elements at very low concentrations in water-based solutions, and it can be applied to nearly any material that can be adequately dissolved in water. ICP-MS can be thought of as a two-step process: First, the ICP part converts the dissolved elements in a dilute water solution into a stream of positively charged atoms. Second, those charged atoms are separated by atomic mass and are individually counted. Thus, ICP and MS together enable the separation, identification, and quantification of elements in a solution. Our current generation ICP-MS instrument is a PerkinElmer NexION 300D.

ICP-MS Policies and Procedures

Instrument Access

As part of our educational mission, we provide training to allow individuals to operate the ICP-MS in support of their own research. Within our University, we allow faculty, research staff, post-doctoral researchers, and graduate students to receive training. Researchers from outside of TAMU (industry, academia, and government) are also welcomed to become facility users.

Operator Training

Learning to safely and effectively operate the ICP-MS is relatively straightforward. As with any tool, if ICP-MS is used improperly, it can give poor results. Therefore, we expect that all of our users will go beyond just learning which buttons to push and will begin to think like an analytical chemist. As part of our educational mission, we hope to impart a practical and theoretical understanding of the technique, so that you can not only generate but understand your data.

  • New operator orientation is generally provided on the first Monday of each month. Contact us by email if interested.

  • Schedule for 2020/2021:

  • Due to COVID-19, we have suspended all training until further notice.

    • September 7, 2020 at 13:00 This session is canceled.

    • October 5, 2020 at 09:00 This session is canceled.

    • November 2, 2020 at 13:00 This session is canceled.

    • December 7, 2020 at 09:00 This session is canceled.

    • February 1, 2021 at 13:00 This session is canceled.

    • March 1, 2021 at 09:00 This session is canceled.

    • April 5, 2021 at 13:00 This session is canceled.

    • May 3, 2021 at 09:00 This session is canceled.

    • June 7, 2021 at 13:00 This session is canceled.

    • July 12, 2021 at 13:00 This session is canceled.

    • August 2, 2021 at 13:00

  • The training sequence is composed of three separate sessions.

    • Orientation: Overview of theory, equipment, policies and procedures.

    • Demonstration: Trainee prepares calibrators and observes operation.

    • Hands-On: Trainee operates with the trainer present.

  • Prior experience with ICP-MS or ICP-OES (-AES) may reduce the training required.


The ICP-MS is available for use Monday through Friday, from 09:00 to 17:00.

  • Instrument scheduling is handled with an online calendar.

  • Calendar credentials are issued at the completion of training.

  • Reservations are made in 4 hour blocks starting at 09:00 and at 13:00.

  • To accomodate large sample sets, overnight runs and early morning starts are allowed with permission from EAL staff.

  • Trained users are free to reserve as many time slots as they need.

  • No calendar squatting! As a courtesy to all of our users, please only reserve time that you plan to use.

  • Cancelation of a reservation must be made at least 24 hours in advance; otherwise, charges for the unused time will be applied.

Current users can find the ICP-MS reservation calendar
from a campus computer (or VPN connection) by clicking the calendar icon.


We take safety seriously and expect all users to do the same. When working in the ICP-MS lab, every operator must wear the appropriate PPE.

  • Safety glasses are required at all times.

  • Always act in accordance with all safety signage.

  • Shorts and skirts are not permitted; long pants must be worn.

  • Open-toed shoes (i.e., flip-flops, sandals, etc.) are not allowed.

  • The operator is responsible for assuring that all guests comply with safety rules.

  • Failure to adhere to these policies can result in the loss of instrument access.


Usage of the instrument is billed on an hourly basis with a two-hour minimum. Total time is rounded to the nearest 15 minutes.

  • Our current rates are:

    • Texas A&M University System (TAMUS) Customers: $45/h

    • External Customers: $65/h

  • The basis of charges is the total time that the plasma was on.

  • TAMU customers are required to provide a FAMIS billing account number at the time of operation.

  • Monthly invoices are sent to the designated accounts payable contact person.