Inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometers (ICP-MS) have become the workhorses of many analytical labs over the past few decades. Despite the instruments' high sensitivities and low detection limits there is still a demand for improvements in several aspects of their performance. One area of improvement is in the understanding of "space charge effects" Space charge effects are classified as problems associated with the ion beam. Problems are created when the mutual repulsions of the ions make consistent focusing of the ion beam difficult. This is particularly problematic with samples containing a low concentration analyte contained within a high salt solution matrix, resulting in lower instrument sensitivity and inaccurate results. The research presented here used laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) imaging to characterize the ion beam as it enters the mass analyzer of a commercial ICP-MS. To perform the LIF imaging a laser system with two ring cavities was constructed to frequency double a CW titanium-sapphire laser to the calcium ion transition at 393.4 nm or to the barium ion transition at 455.4 nm. Ion beam images for both elements were taken under different instrument modes and matrix compositions. The same trends in shift and distortion of the barium ion beam with the addition of a lead matrix was observed as in previous experiments with calcium. A shift in the focal point of the ion beams of both elements was also observed in normal sensitivity mode and with the instrument's collisional reaction interface (CRI). This work indicates that a shift in beam focusing is responsible for the change in ion transmission due to changes in matrix composition and instrument modes.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Chemistry and Biochemistry



Date Submitted


Document Type





ICP-MS, matrix effects, laser-induced fluorescence imaging