ICP-MS Courses

Two courses (with limited enrollment) provide hands-on experience with ICP-MS, in addition to other inorganic mass spectrometric techniques. Brief descriptions and syllabi are included below.  If interested, please contact Dr. Miller for more information: nrmiller@jsg.utexas.edu.

GEO 391 – Fundamentals and Applications of ICP-MS (Fall)

The value of compositional data (isotopic and elemental) to scientific inquiry is indisputable. Such data form the relationships from which trends and processes emerge, enabling prediction and advancement of hypotheses. Capable scientists need analytical education in terms of instrumental methods, data generation and evaluation, and knowledge of scales of measurement and natural variability. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is widely regarded as the premier technique for trace, minor and major element measurement, and has wide applications in almost every analytical field. This course covers fundamentals of the technique and explores, through hands-on labs, applications and capabilities of ICP-MS. Lecture/lab contents are approximately 50:50 with the lab component emphasized in the second half of the course. It is the hands-on experience component of this course, in particular, that facilitates understanding of ICP-MS capabilities.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in geological sciences or graduate standing and consent of instructor. Working knowledge of MS Excel, including manipulation of rows and columns of data, application of basic algebraic functions to derive statistics, sorting and filtering of data.

Syllabus: Fall 2013 Syllabus

Previous Student Projects: GEO 391 Class Projects

GEO 390S – Analytical Methods in Mass Spectrometry (Spring)

Mass spectrometers are essentially analytical balances that operate at molecular and atomic levels. Compositional data (both isotopic and elemental) provided by mass spectrometric techniques are invaluable to many lines of scientific inquiry. Many types of mass spectrometers have been developed to suit a wide range of applications (>10 in the Jackson School of Geosciences!), but all involve the conversion of sample molecules into charged particles (ions) that are then measured according to their mass-to-charge ratio to provide specific information about chemical identity and abundance. This course provides an introduction to inorganic mass spectrometry methods and their applications to the Earth sciences. Five key modalities are surveyed (TIMS, ICP-MS, LA-ICP-MS, MC-ICP-MS, and IRMS) in lecture, with hands-on experience provided in weekly labs. Knowledge and skills developed in this course are intended to provide an understanding of how mass spectrometers work, how these techniques are used in geoscience research, and what is necessary to generate and critically evaluate high-quality data.

Prerequisites: Graduate standing in geological sciences, upper division undergraduate standing in geological sciences and consent of instructor, or graduate standing in another field and consent of instructor.

Syllabus: Spring 2014 Syllabus