Suppression of spectral interference in dual-elemental analysis of single particles using triple quadrupole ICP-MS

Ka Him Chun, Judy Tsz Shan Lum, Kelvin Sze Yin Leung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Single particle-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (SP-ICP-MS) was used in the analysis of single particles/cells. Although quadrupole mass analyzers are widely used, the long settling time restricts measurement to single elements in individual particles. Recently, dual-elemental analysis has successfully been developed with the assistance of oxygen gas in the collision cell. This simple approach greatly expands the capability of quadrupole-based ICP-MS.

In this study, we adopted bandpass mode in the first quadrupole (Q1) to improve the limit of detection of single particles against spectral interference. A model was developed to explain the rationale behind the selection of quadrupole voltages. The quadrupole voltages were optimized systematically so that the mass bandwidth of Q1 allowed the transmission of two target analytes while the interference species were rejected. As a result, the signal from the polyatomic interference was reduced by 98% with no significant change in the analyte signal.

The bandpass mode was further applied to accurately determine the isotope ratio of 109Ag/107Ag in 80-nm Ag nanoparticles, as well as the Ag content in AgSn alloy particles, under the polyatomic interference of 91Zr16O originating from dissolved ions and particles. This technique was further applied to the determination of two Yb isotopes in algal cells with interference from Gd. Results indicate that this approach has great potential for assessing single particles and biological cells in the presence of severe interference from imaging agents, drugs, or biological fluids.

Original languageEnglish
Article number340258
Number of pages9
JournalAnalytica Chimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy

User-Defined Keywords

  • Bandpass mode
  • Dual-mass
  • Nanoparticles
  • Single particle ICP-MS
  • Spectral interference


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