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Fresenius J Anal Chem. 2000 Sep;368(1):23-30.

Precise and accurate isotope ratio measurements by ICP-MS.

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Zentralabteilung für Chemische Analysen, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Germany.


The precise and accurate determination of isotope ratios by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and laser ablation ICP-MS (LA-ICP-MS) is important for quite different application fields (e.g. for isotope ratio measurements of stable isotopes in nature, especially for the investigation of isotope variation in nature or age dating, for determining isotope ratios of radiogenic elements in the nuclear industry, quality assurance of fuel material, for reprocessing plants, nuclear material accounting and radioactive waste control, for tracer experiments using stable isotopes or long-lived radionuclides in biological or medical studies). Thermal ionization mass spectrometry (TIMS), which used to be the dominant analytical technique for precise isotope ratio measurements, is being increasingly replaced for isotope ratio measurements by ICP-MS due to its excellent sensitivity, precision and good accuracy. Instrumental progress in ICP-MS was achieved by the introduction of the collision cell interface in order to dissociate many disturbing argon-based molecular ions, thermalize the ions and neutralize the disturbing argon ions of plasma gas (Ar+). The application of the collision cell in ICP-QMS results in a higher ion transmission, improved sensitivity and better precision of isotope ratio measurements compared to quadrupole ICP-MS without the collision cell [e.g., for 235U/238U approximately 1 (10 microg x L(-1) uranium) 0.07% relative standard deviation (RSD) vs. 0.2% RSD in short-term measurements (n = 5)]. A significant instrumental improvement for ICP-MS is the multicollector device (MC-ICP-MS) in order to obtain a better precision of isotope ratio measurements (with a precision of up to 0.002%, RSD). CE- and HPLC-ICP-MS are used for the separation of isobaric interferences of long-lived radionuclides and stable isotopes by determination of spallation nuclide abundances in an irradiated tantalum target.


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