An ICP is an excitation source in which power is generated through electromagnetic induction to produce an electrodeless discharge in a gas - usually argon.
The plasma is generated inside and at the open end of an assembly of quartz tubes known as the torch.
Typically, liquid samples are aspirated in a stream of argon gas and carried to the plasma torch. Temperatures here can range from 6,000K to 10,000K - enough to break down most molecular and ionic bonds and comparable to the surface of the sun.
The subsequent separation and analysis of the resulting ions differs depending on the technique used.
Find out about ICP-AES. In this method, electromagnetic radiation emitted by excited atoms is detected by a spectrometer. It is routinely used to analyse digests of rocks, minerals, organic materials and waters.
Learn about ICP-MS, which separates and detects ions based on their mass-to-charge ratio. It is used in a variety of applications and the excellent sensitivity and the interference removal technology of the instrument improves the quality of Cr, V, As and rare earth elements determination.