Agilent is excited about their new 4100 MP-AES system. The initials stand for Microwave Plasma Atomic Emission Spectrometer. The instrument uses the magnetic component of the microwave energy to produce a nitrogen plasma at ca 5000 K, through which the sample is drawn. The monochrometer looks down the axis of the plasma torch. The detector is constructed to suppress blooming.

Pretty cool instrument. The setup includes a nitrogen supply which separates the nitrogen directly from air, so there is no large argon dewar to lug to remote locations like mine sites.

The MP-AES is designed to compete in the AA market. The detection limits are comparable for many elements. The kicker is that there no need for combustion gases or element specific lamps since it is a plasma emission method.

The question I have is this- is there any market left in the replacement of AA? The instrument sells for $53 k, so the pricing is very competitive with or better than ICP. I think that argon based ICP is going to feel the heat of this nitrogen plasma torch.

The bad news for chemists is that you don’t need a chemistry degree to run it. To set up methods, maybe, but the software is designed for operation by non-degreed techs.