Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 408, Issue 19, pp 5053–5074 | Cite as

Single Particle ICP-MS: Advances toward routine analysis of nanomaterials

  • Manuel D. MontañoEmail author
  • John W. Olesik
  • Angela G. Barber
  • Katie Challis
  • James F. Ranville
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Single-particle-ICP-MS Advances


From its early beginnings in characterizing aerosol particles to its recent applications for investigating natural waters and waste streams, single particle inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (spICP-MS) has proven to be a powerful technique for the detection and characterization of aqueous dispersions of metal-containing nanomaterials. Combining the high-throughput of an ensemble technique with the specificity of a single particle counting technique and the elemental specificity of ICP-MS, spICP-MS is capable of rapidly providing researchers with information pertaining to size, size distribution, particle number concentration, and major elemental composition with minimal sample perturbation. Recently, advances in data acquisition, signal processing, and the implementation of alternative mass analyzers (e.g., time-of-flight) has resulted in a wider breadth of particle analyses and made significant progress toward overcoming many of the challenges in the quantitative analysis of nanoparticles. This review provides an overview of spICP-MS development from a niche technique to application for routine analysis, a discussion of the key issues for quantitative analysis, and examples of its further advancement for analysis of increasingly complex environmental and biological samples.

Graphical Abstract

Single particle ICP-MS workflow for the analysis of suspended nanoparticles


Single particle ICP-MS ICP-TOF-MS Engineered nanoparticles Environmental analysis Core-shell nanoparticles FFF-ICP-MS 



The authors acknowledge graduate student support from the National Science Foundation (CBET-1336168, -1512695), the Environmental Protection Agency (RD83558001). Postdoctoral support comes from the Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manuel D. Montaño
    • 1
    Email author
  • John W. Olesik
    • 2
  • Angela G. Barber
    • 3
  • Katie Challis
    • 3
  • James F. Ranville
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringDuke University, Center for Environmental Implications of NanotechnologyDurhamUSA
  2. 2.School of Earth SciencesOhio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  3. 3.Department of Chemistry and GeochemistryColorado School of MinesGoldenUSA

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