Analysis of Complex Particle Mixtures by Asymmetrical Flow Field-Flow Fractionation Coupled to Inductively Coupled Plasma Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry
Asymmetrical flow FFF (AF4) is a flow-based fractionation technique which separates particles according to their hydrodynamic sizes. The technique can be combined with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) for the analysis of metal-containing particles.
Meili-Borovinskaya and co-workers tested – for the first time – the online coupling of AF4 with ICP-TOFMS, using TOFWERK’s icpTOF R. The authors demonstrate the advantages of the hyphenated system in conventional mode and in single particle (sp) mode to determine size distribution, elemental composition, and number concentration of composite particles. The test samples consisted of micro-alloyed steels and particles extracted from soil spiked with various engineered nanoparticles.
TOFMS offers several advantages compared to quadrupole and sector field systems due to its simultaneous detection capabilities. Using TOFMS, untargeted analysis is conducted by default, ensuring the detection of all particles in a sample without the need for sample pre-screening. Moreover, the authors describe how asymmetrical flow FFF coupled to ICP-TOFMS can be applied to study complex samples of inorganic particles which contain organic compounds.