Sample preparation – Agilent 8900 QQQ

Please contact Karrie before you prepare samples for analysis.  Below are general guidelines for sample preparation for analysis by solution based ICP-MS on the Agilent 8900 QQQ.

Matrix / solution composition:

The ICP-MS takes in samples in solution. Our preferred sample matrix is 2% nitric acid. For the lowest backgrounds and blanks we recommend ultra-high purity acid such as Optima (Fisher) or BDH (VWR).  Trace metal grade may be appropriate for some elements.  Reagent and ACS grade are not clean enough for use with our ICP-MS samples. If you don’t have access to high purity acid, let us know and we can provide you with some acid to make your dilutions.

On rare occasions it may be appropriate to use other matrix compositions such as trace hydrochloric acid or hydrofluoric acid.  These will need to be high purity, and require permission in advance.

If your samples are a result of an experiment or synthetic process, please let us know about all the things that might be in your sample.  This includes: buffers or pH adjusters, ionic salts, solvents, etc.  We need to make sure your standards are in the same matrix for the most accurate calibration.


Samples should be diluted to approx 1 ppb of the elements of interest.  Required sample volume is typically less than 5 mL – this may vary depending on your application.  The number of samples is limited by the number that we can fit in our autosampler.  For 8-10 mL tubes (11-13 mm diameter) we can fit 270 samples.  For 15mL centrifuge tubes (15-17 mm diameter) we can fit 180 samples.


It is recommended that you provide 5 standards that cover the range of concentrations that you expect in your samples.  You should provide 50 mL of each standard, and one acid / matrix blank.  Standard should be prepared gravimetrically.  The SIGMA lab has a very large stock of elemental  standards solutions and we can help you prepare your standards or provide them for you if necessary.  We will keep your standards with your samples in teh clean lab for up to 1 year.  You can take them back at any time, but we may require the preparation of new standards if yours have left the clean room enviroment.

Sample and Standard naming:

Please do not use an asterisk (*) in any of your samples names.  Use the excel sheet below and populate it with your sample names in the order  you would like to have them run.  Also include the exact standard values and identify each element in your standard. This file should be uploaded with your instrument reservation request.

Change the file name to your last name and the date.  Example: Weaver-20210315.xlsx

agilent sample list.xlsx

Autosampler and vials:

The autosampler has 4 racks and 1 is dedicated to standards and QCs.  The remaining 3 racks can include 50 mL vials, 15 mL vials, or 8 mL vials.  All vials should have caps and be made of polypropylene (not polystyrene).

Recommended vials:

Vial size Cleanest option – part number Alternative – part number
8 mL ; 13mm diameter Sarstedt via fisher p/n 60.550.028 Thermo Scientific  M995200 with caps M995240
15 mL; 16mm Corning 430791 Falcon 352096, Thermo Scientific 339650
50 mL; 30mm Corning  430829 Corning 352070