For most clinical methods using ICP-MS, there is a relatively simple and quick sample prep process. The main component to the sample is an internal standard, which also serves as the diluent. This internal standard consists primarily of deionized water, with nitric or hydrochloric acid, and Indium and/or Gallium. Depending on the sample type, usually 5 ml of the internal standard is added to a test tube along with 10–500 microliters of sample. This mixture is then vortexed for several seconds or until mixed well and then loaded onto the autosampler tray. For other applications that may involve very viscous samples or samples that have particulate matter, a process known as sample digestion may have to be carried out, before it can be pipetted and analyzed. This adds an extra first step to the above process, and therefore makes the sample prep more lengthy.
Read more about this topic: Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry
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