vacuum-blog-post-featured-698x400Done! Another successful day measuring elemental impurities with my ICP-MS. I was quite proud of the customized flow injection setup I’d constructed for determining traces of Cu in volume-limited samples – those who remember the early days of flow injection would have been impressed with my rugged, leak-free setup. Unfortunately, the samples I had been analyzing all day were biological in nature and the instrument’s cones were covered in carbon black. I was going to have to clean those before switching over to run some drinking water samples.

The reality of that time-consuming task sinks in. SIGH

I make a mental note to come in a couple of hours earlier than usual the following day to clean the cones before starting my sample run. Even though I was quite an expert at cone cleaning, there was only so quickly I could complete that task, given that I had to shut down the instrument, break the vacuum, dismantle part of the instrument’s front end, wrestle the cones free, clean them, reinstall them, reassemble the front of the instrument, turn the instrument’s power back on and let the instrument pump down to reach the appropriate vacuum pressure.

If Only I’d Had an iCAP

The above story was a common occurrence during my past time as a laboratory chemist. However, if I’d been using a Thermo Scientific iCAP RQ to collect my ICP-MS data, I could have removed the cones, reinstalled them, and gotten the instrument back to its ready state in one minute.

Let that sink in for a moment. In 60 seconds, you can access, remove and reinstall the cones, and begin running samples again.

Seems crazy, right? I thought so myself until I saw this video. It’s only one minute long so don’t look away or you’ll miss something!

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The interface on the iCAP RQ is at bench-level height and is accessible with a simple 180-degree turn of a single door handle. Both cones are then quickly and easily removed with a specially designed tool.

Have you ever dropped one of the cones while carrying them over to the lab bench for cleaning? Don’t be embarrassed, I’m sure you have. I’ve dropped my fair share. The cone removal tool on the iCAP RQ is magnetic, so that won’t ever happen again.

But here’s the best part. The interface region is set up such that the cones (as well as the load coil and torch) can be accessed without ever breaking vacuum. Not even for a second. When you close the outer door and turn the handle 180 degrees to secure it, the instrument is ready for analysis before you’ve walked over to the computer to ignite the plasma and start your analysis.

There’s a lot to like about iCAP….this is just one more example.