Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 407, Issue 3, pp 869–882 | Cite as

Investigation of mass dependence effects for the accurate determination of molybdenum isotope amount ratios by MC-ICP-MS using synthetic isotope mixtures

Research Paper
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Methodology for absolute Mo isotope amount ratio measurements by multicollector inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (MC-ICP-MS) using calibration with synthetic isotope mixtures (SIMs) is presented. For the first time, synthetic isotope mixtures prepared from seven commercially available isotopically enriched molybdenum metal powders (92Mo, 94Mo, 95Mo, 96Mo, 97Mo, 98Mo, and 100Mo) are used to investigate whether instrumental mass discrimination of Mo isotopes in MC-ICP-MS is consistent with mass-dependent isotope distribution. The parent materials were dissolved and mixed as solutions to obtain mixtures with accurately known isotope amount ratios. The level of elemental impurities in the isotopically enriched molybdenum metal powders was quantified by ICP-MS by using both high-resolution and reaction cell instruments to completely resolve spectral interferences. The Mo isotope amount ratio values with expanded uncertainty (k = 2), determined by MC-ICP-MS for a high-purity Mo rod from Johnson Matthey, were as follows: 92Mo/95Mo = 0.9235(9), 94Mo/95Mo = 0.5785(8), 96Mo/95Mo = 1.0503(9), 97Mo/95Mo = 0.6033(6), 98Mo/95Mo = 1.5291(20), and 100Mo/95Mo = 0.6130(7). A full uncertainty budget for the measurements is presented which shows that the largest contribution to the uncertainty budget comes from correction for elemental impurities (∼51 %), followed by the contribution from weighing operations (∼26 %). The atomic weight of molybdenum was calculated to be 95.947(2); the uncertainty in parentheses is expanded uncertainty with the coverage factor of 2. A particular advantage of the developed method is that calibration factors for all six Mo isotope amount ratios, involving the 95Mo isotope, were experimentally determined. This allows avoiding any assumption on mass-dependent isotope fractions in MC-ICP-MS, inherent to the method of double spike previously used for Mo isotope amount ratio measurements. However, data obtained in this study show that instrumental mass discrimination in MC-ICP-MS is consistent with mass-dependent Mo isotope fractionation. This was demonstrated by a good agreement between experimentally obtained and theoretically expected values of the exponent of isotope fractionation, β, for each triad of Mo isotopes.

Graphical abstract

Mo isotope amount ratio measurementsᅟ


Mo isotope ratios Calibration Measurement traceability Instrumental mass discrimination 



The work was supported by funding from the UK National Measurement Office and EURAMET within the project SIB09 Elements. The authors are grateful to Mike Sargent for encouragement and useful discussions in the project. Jennifer O’Reilly is acknowledged for careful internal review of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LGC LimitedTeddingtonUK

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