Depending on the problem to be solved the Fraunhofer IME applies appropriate methods of element and element species analysis. For element analysis emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) is used in addition to atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS) methods, such as cold-vapor AAS. For ultra trace analyses the laboratory is equipped with quadrupol mass spectrometers (ICP-MS) and a high resolution sector field mass spectrometer (HR-ICP-MS). The latter enables precise and highly sensitive isotope and element analyses hardly limited by any interference and low detection limits. The samples are prepared using efficient digestion methods (e.g. microwave treatment for organic material) or in accordance with defined standards (e.g. extraction from soil using aqua regia or ammonium nitrate solution).
In recent years, it has become increasingly apparent that it is often not sufficient to determine merely the total concentration of elements or metals. Distribution across different environmental media, environmental mobility, availability for uptake by organisms (bioavailability) and likely effects can often only be elucidated if the concentrations of the various elemental species are known. In this area, we can provide problem-oriented methods mainly based on the combination of efficient separation techniques and specific detection methods (e.g. HPLC/ICP-MS or GC/HR-ICP-MS). Available species analysis-techniques include methods for mercury/methyl mercury in biological samples, organotin compounds in environmental samples, chromium(III)/chromium(VI) in soil and fractions different metals in water.