iCal Solution: The iCal solution is a solution of known composition and concentration which should be used to calibrate the instrument approximately once a week. The instrument has specific parameters to be used when 'makeng icalization' and will notify the user if results of icalization dramatically differ from previous results. If icalization fails, it is likely that the solution used was not the ical solution, which the instrument may indicate. Each new icalization overwrites the previous icalization, though data from previous files are not changed, it will not be possible to retrieve a specific ical run from a previous date.
Software contains - different modes:
Transient (time resolved data), method (instrument parameters), automate (system controls)
Transient: The transient method includes two running frames, fast and slow transient. Fast transient may be used for immediate runs. Clicking on 'fast transient' brings user to a dialogue box which allows for parameter inputs for the trial to be run. In fast transient it is helpful to click only a limited number of desired elements to decrease data lines and help focus on the relevant elements. Fast transient can not be set up using the auto sampler at this point in time. The only way to attain time resolved data from different samples is to manually move the tubing into respective sample tubes.
Method: Click on the method to load a specific method from list, an example of a method is 'Colby Lake Water.' If you are creating a new method, it is helpful to make a copy of an existing method (by highlighting the method and clicking 'copy method' in the bottom right hand corner) Do not save changes to an existing method if you are developing an unrelated one unless you are sure the owner will not mind. Be sure to load the copied method when performing this action. A helpful hint about method is that it will not run many functions of the ICP until the most recent changes have be saved. Be sure you have clicked save if you are having any trouble with the start up options such as flush and plasma (ie any buttons are not click-able).
From method it is possible to control all instrument parameters including calibration results. Parameters may have to be fine tweaked with each specific method based on elements of interest. Control check standards often come up as errors with regard to certain elements if values have not been properly set. Values are not specific, but increasing the range on a ppb or ppm standard of a non-trace element helps standards run smoothly.
'F' Icon: The 'F' icon is for the instrument flush. Flushing the instrument includes blowing air through the tubes followed by argon. The flush is an important step in the startup of the instrument as it prepares for the ignition of the plasma.
Flame Icon: The flame icon (says 'turn plasma on' when covered with mouse) is the button which ignites the plasma. The time that the plasma is igniting is the only time during use of the instrument that the ICP door may not be opened. While the plasma is igniting, Spectro indicates that it is important to keep the blue 'emergency stop' button within reach should there be any problems in igniting the 10,000 K flame. (though common sense may indicate that should a problem arise, one may prefer to be as far from the instrument as possible...)
'P' Icon: The 'P' icon turns the pump on. Tubes must be properly clamped, and one must ensure that they are not being crimped (clamped flat) for this damages the tubing and it will therefore need to be replaced more often. Always makes sure tubing is loosed once the instrument is shut down, including the clamp at the back of the auto-sampler.
There are several functions that can be selected from the pull down menu within each method. These functions can be specifically set for each new method, and it is important to modify them as necessary.
Line Selection: The line selection function allows the user to define which elements to run with each sample. It is generally a good idea to run the entire periodic table, even if the desire is only for specific elements. One will choose which elements to be analyzed further, but by choosing the entire periodic table option, one can retrieve data about different elements as needed.
Measurement Time: This function determines the best available signal to noise ratio and reports the data for all pixels. The software will, however, only store one point from the available ratios.
Line Definition: In line definition, it is possible to choose the analytical lines for each element. The software gives several options, including the option to choose from the 'best' analytical lines. Depending on the elements that are being run, it may not be optimal to use the best lines because some elements have overlap in their emission wavelengths. Lines can be amended as needed to ensure the best possible results. To use line definition on each specific element in a run, load data by pressing shift-click, then load.
Saving Standards: When saving standards there are two possible options. They can be saved as global or local standards. Global standards make life easier because they are stored in a global data base which can be accessed from any method. Local standards can only be accessed with the specific method from which they are calculated.