elemental mass spectrometry

In elemental mass spectrometry, a technique used mostly for inorganic materials, the elemental composition of a sample is determined rather than the structural identities of its chemical constituents. Elemental mass spectrometry provides quantitative information about the concentrations of those elements. The ion source used in elemental MS is ordinarily an atmospheric-pressure discharge such as the inductively coupled plasma (ICP) or a moderate-power device such as the glow-discharge source. In either case, the decomposition of the sample into its constituent atoms and ionization of those atoms occurs in a specially designed source. The resulting atomic-ion beam is then separated or sorted by a mass spectrometer and the signal as a function of m/z used to determine the sample composition.