Inductively-Coupled Plasma (ICP) Excitation Source
An inductively coupled plasma (ICP) is a very high temperture (7000-8000K) excitation source that efficiently desolvates, vaporizes, excites, and ionizes atoms. Molecular interferences are greatly reduced with this excitation source but are not eliminated completely. ICP sources are used to excite atoms for atomic-emission spectroscopy and to ionize atoms for mass spectrometry.
The sample is nebulized and entrained in the flow of plasma support gas, which is typically Ar. The plasma torch consists of concentric quartz tubes. The inner tube contains the sample aerosol and Ar support gas and the outer tube contains flowing gas to keep the tubes cool. A radiofrequency (RF) generator (typically 1-5 kW @ 27 MHz) produces an oscillating current in an induction coil that wraps around the tubes. The induction coil creates an oscillating magnetic field, which produces an oscillating magnetic field The magnetic field in turn sets up an oscillating current in the ions and electrons of the support gas (argon). As the ions and electrons collide with other atoms in the support gas
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