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ICP-AES is a spectral technique that is used to both determine the presence of metal analyte and the concentrations thereof. The ICP-AES method is introduced and a practical example is presented. This will help the reader to use this method for their own research work.

What is icp-aes?

Inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) is a spectral method used to determine very precisely the elemental composition of samples; it can also be used to quantify the elemental concentration with the sample. ICP-AES uses high-energy plasma from an inert gas like argon to burn analytes very rapidly. The color that is emitted from the analyte is indicative of the elements present, and the intensity of the spectral signal is indicative of the concentration of the elements that is present. A schematic view of a typical experimental set-up is shown in [link] .

Schematic representation of an ICP-AES set-up.

How does icp-aes work?

ICP-AES works by the emission of photons from analytes that are brought to an excited state by the use of high-energy plasma. The plasma source is induced when passing argon gas through an alternating electric field that is created by an inductively couple coil. When the analyte is excited the electrons try to dissipate the induced energy moving to a ground state of lower energy, in doing this they emit the excess energy in the form of light. The wavelength of light emitted depends on the energy gap between the excited energy level and the ground state. This is specific to the element based on the number of electrons the element has and electron orbital’s are filled. In this way the wavelength of light can be used to determine what elements are present by detection of the light at specific wavelengths.

As a simple example consider the situation when placing a piece of copper wire into the flame of a candle. The flame turns green due to the emission of excited electrons within the copper metal, as the electrons try to dissipate the energy incurred from the flame, they move to a more stable state emitting energy in the form of light. The energy gap between the excited state to the ground state (ΔE) dictates the color of the light or wavelength of the light, [link] , where h is Plank's constant (6.626×10 -34 m 2 kg/s), and ν is the frequency of the emitted light.

The wavelength of light is indicative of the element present. If another metal is placed in the flame such as iron a different color flame will be emitted because the electronic structure of iron is different from that of copper. This is a very simple analogy for what is happening in ICP-AES and how it is used to determine what elements are present. By detecting the wavelength of light that is emitted from the analyte one can deduce what elements are be present.

Naturally if there is a lot of the material present then there will be an accumulative effect making the intensity of the signal large. However, if there were very little materials present the signal would be low. By this rationale one can create a calibration curve from analyte solutions of known concentrations, whereby the intensity of the signal changes as a function of the concentration of the material that is present. When measuring the intensity from a sample of unknown concentration the intensity from this sample can be compared to that from the calibration curve, so this can be used to determine the concentration of the analytes within the sample.

Questions & Answers

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The denominator of a certain fraction is 9 more than the numerator. If 6 is added to both terms of the fraction, the value of the fraction becomes 2/3. Find the original fraction. 2. The sum of the least and greatest of 3 consecutive integers is 60. What are the valu
1. x + 6 2 -------------- = _ x + 9 + 6 3 x + 6 3 ----------- x -- (cross multiply) x + 15 2 3(x + 6) = 2(x + 15) 3x + 18 = 2x + 30 (-2x from both) x + 18 = 30 (-18 from both) x = 12 Test: 12 + 6 18 2 -------------- = --- = --- 12 + 9 + 6 27 3
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Mark = x,. Don = 3x + 1 x + 3x + 1 = 113 4x = 112, x = 28 Mark = 28, Don = 85, 28 + 85 = 113
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Source:  OpenStax, Physical methods in chemistry and nano science. OpenStax CNX. May 05, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col10699/1.21
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