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Comparison and Selection of ICP-OES and ICP-MS Technologies


Technical Principles

ICP-OES: ICP-OES is an analytical technique based on atomic emission spectroscopy. When the sample enters the plasma, the atoms and ions in the sample are excited and emit light at specific wavelengths. By detecting these light signals, the elemental content of the sample can be determined. ICP-OES uses an optical system for spectral dispersion, detection, and data processing, enabling simultaneous determination of multiple elements.

ICP-MS: ICP-MS is an analytical technique based on mass spectrometry. In ICP-MS, after the atoms and ions in the sample are excited by the plasma, they enter the ion source section of the mass spectrometer. In the ion source, the atoms and ions in the sample are ionized and form charged particles. These charged particles are separated and detected in the mass analyzer based on their mass-to-charge ratio (m/z). By detecting the ion signals at different m/z, the elemental content and isotopic information of the sample can be determined.

Application Fields

ICP-OES: ICP-OES can be used for the determination of major, trace, and ultra-trace elements in samples. It plays an important role in environmental monitoring, product quality control, and scientific research.

ICP-MS: ICP-MS can be used for the determination of major, trace, ultra-trace elements, and isotopes in samples. ICP-MS has important applications in geochemical research, environmental monitoring, analysis of biological samples, and drug development.

Comparison of Advantages and Disadvantages


  1. Advantages: ICP-OES is characterized by ease of operation, high automation, low detection limits, wide linear dynamic range, and simultaneous analysis of multiple elements. Additionally, ICP-OES has minimal matrix effects, making it suitable for the analysis of complex samples.
  2. Disadvantages: The optical system of ICP-OES is susceptible to environmental factors such as temperature and humidity. Additionally, when spectral interferences exist in the sample, the analysis results of ICP-OES may be affected.


  1. Advantages: ICP-MS features high sensitivity, low detection limits, wide linear dynamic range, simultaneous analysis of multiple elements, and the ability to determine isotopes. Furthermore, ICP-MS has significant application value in geochemical research and analysis of biological samples.
  2. Disadvantages: The operation of ICP-MS is more complex and requires skilled personnel for precise adjustments. Additionally, the mass spectrometer section of ICP-MS has high environmental requirements (such as temperature and humidity control) and requires strict laboratory conditions.

Selection Factors

When choosing between ICP-OES and ICP-MS, the following factors need to be considered:

  1. Select ICP-MS if isotopic analysis is required; both ICP-OES and ICP-MS are suitable for elemental content determination.
  2. Sample type: For complex samples, ICP-OES has minimal matrix effects and is more suitable for analysis; ICP-MS has advantages in the analysis of biological samples.
  3. Detection limit requirements: ICP-MS has lower detection limits and is suitable for trace element analysis; the detection limits of ICP-OES are relatively higher.
  4. Experimental conditions: Consider laboratory environment, equipment costs, and maintenance factors; ICP-OES is relatively easier to operate with lower equipment costs, while ICP-MS requires complex operation and higher equipment costs.