Dirty, blocked, or damaged interface cones can adversely impact the sensitivity, precision, and background of your ICP-MS results. These are all sound reasons to include regular, visual inspection of sampler and skimmer cones in your maintenance routines. This article looks at how to easily inspect cones and provides some simple handling and maintenance tips to help keep your ICP-MS in peak condition.
Up to now, cone inspection could only be achieved by dismantling the sample inlet system and taking the cones out to examine them under a microscope. Now, this important task is made more reliable and less tedious with the new Agilent LED measuring magnifier. This field-proven tool allows you to inspect the condition of your sampler or skimmer cone, check for matrix build-up at the tip, and confirm whether cleaning/maintenance procedures have been successful. It also allows you to easily check if a cone needs replacing, which is often required due to an enlarged or damaged orifice. The magnifier is included with the Agilent cone care kit, meaning that you have all the supplies needed to replace and maintain your interface cones.
When the skimmer or sampler cones do need to be cleaned or replaced, make sure to handle with care. The delicate surface of the cones can be damaged easily, so we have put together six simple handling recommendations to help you:
- Only handle by the outer edges.
- Never place the cone on its tip.
- Ensure that the tip does not come into contact with any other surfaces.
- Avoid excessive cleaning.
- Sonicate cones in their own beaker.
- Never soak cones in acid.
Routine/simple cleaning procedure:
A simple clean using water is all that is needed for the cones. Follow these three steps:
- Rinse in de-ionized water.
- Place the cone in a beaker with the tip pointing upwards.
- Sonicate for at least five minutes in de-ionized water.
Next time you are inspecting or cleaning the cones in your ICP-MS, be sure to refer to this article for easy step-by-step recommendations. To learn more about skimmer and sampler cones, you can also check out this handy video.