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by TIM last modified Apr 03, 2015 07:31 PM

Toulouse ICP-MS Facility


  • Provide state of the art Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) instruments to the scientist of the Midi Pyrenees Observatory (Toulouse).

  • Provide an expertise in ICPMS analyses to the scientist of the Midi Pyrenees Observatory.

  • Contribute to the training of master, PhD students, postdocs, technician, engineers and researcher, in the field of ICPMS analyses


Scientific Rationale 

Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) allows the determination of trace element concentrations (down to 10-12g/g) and isotopic ratios. ICPMS has become widely used since the 90s for concentration determinations and the years 2000 for isotopes. With innumerable applications in many fields, such as industry or forensics, ICPMS is probably used in all fields of research about our environment, the study of the universe and of our planet, its biosphere, atmosphere, oceans and continents, its interior and so on, with application in meteorology, climate prognostics, resources (ore and energy), health, pollution, etc.

Maintaining a state of the art facility requires a continuous efforts in order to

  •  acquire new instruments becoming commercially available,
  • develop new technics to be used with those instruments,
  • verify the quality of the measurements,
  • adapt the infrastructure to the new instruments and developments


Description of the facility

The Toulouse OMP ICPMS facility is composed of

  • People: 3 technicians and engineers and 1 researcher
  • Infrastructures: a 75m2 room, with filtered and conditioned air
  • Instruments (cf. Fig. 1):

1 quadrupole ICPMS (Agilent 7500CE)

1 high resolution, sector field, XR HR-ICPMS (Thermoscientific)

1 multi-collector MC-ICPMS (Neptune, Thermofinnigan)

  • Introduction systems (cf. Fig. 1):

In addition to the standard wet spray chambers

- 1 femtosecond laser (Pulsar 10, 800nm, Amplitude Technologies)

- 1 nanosecond laser (Cetac LSX 200)

- 1 gaz chromatography (Trace GC Ultra, Thermoscientific)

- Various desolvators (Aridus, Apex)


Achievements over the period 2009-2014

  • One technician was hired, A. Lanzanova, in charge of the Q-ICPMS
  • One engineers was hired, J. Chmeleff, in charge of the MC-ICPMS and of the facility management
  • One HR-ICPMS was acquired
  • One GC was acquired
  • The lab was extended, from 50m2 to 75m2 to fit the new instruments


The facility welcomed 86 researchers and engineers (permanent staff), 27 postdoc, 67 PhD and a large number of master students.

The facility was involved in the publication of 161 peer reviewed articles and 14 invited talks in international conferences. Providing a list of scientific results here is not possible, they are too numerous.


The ICPMS Facility staff is composed of 3 permanent technicians and engineers, including the technical head of the facility (J. Chmeleff), and 1 researcher elected for a 4 year mandate, as the scientific head of the facility. Whereas the 3 permanent staffs are from another OMP lab, GET, F. Lacan (LEGOS) has been elected as the scientific head from November 2012 on, succeeding J. Sonke (GET).

Since then:

We developed a new multi-element standard, with 59 elements, for the simultaneous determination of their concentrations on single collector ICPMS. The previous standard had uniform concentrations for all elements, implying i) significant interferences between masses, ii) significant memory effects for some masses, iii) insufficient signals for some other masses, iv) a matrix that was most of the time very different from that of the samples. The new standard, which composition has been determined by a series of tests, solves almost completely the 3 first problems and considerably reduces the 4th one (to be published in Chmeleff et al.).

We significantly improved the communication procedures between the facility staff and the users through the creation of a Web site,, including an intranet, providing most of the useful information (calendars, procedures, certificates …).

We organized a yearly ICP-MS course opened to all OMP, in order to teach to the users how to use ICPMS, how to validate their data and how to optimize their measurements.



In the 5 coming years, we plan to:

  • acquire a new MC-ICPMS (already funded), a new femtosecond and a new nanosecond lasers
  • acquire a new ICPMS lab, in order to fit all of our instruments plus those to come within a single space

Participants: J. Chmeleff, F. Candaudap, A. Lanzanova, F. Lacan

Partners. GET, LEGOS ,OMP: Observatoire Midi Pyrenees (Toulouse)

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