Determination of rare earth elements by quadrupole based inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-QMS) shows several spectroscopic overlaps from M+, MO+ and MOH+ ions. Especially, the spectroscopic interferences are observed from the atomic and molecular species of lighter rare earth elements including Ba during the determination of Eu, Gd and Tb. Mathematical correction methods, knowing the at.% abundances of different interfering isotopes, and the extent of formation of molecular species determined experimentally, have been used to account for various spectroscopic interferences. However, the uncertainty propagated through the mathematical correction limits its applicability. The uncertainty propagation increases with the increase in contribution from interfering species. However, for the same extent of total contribution, the overall error decreases when the interfering species are more than one. In this work, chondrite as well as a few geological reference materials containing different proportions of various rare earth elements have been used to study the contributions of different interfering species and the corresponding uncertainty in determining the concentrations of rare earth elements. A number of high abundant isotopes are proposed for determining the concentrations of various rare earth elements. The proposed isotopes are tested experimentally for determining the concentrations of different rare earth elements in two USGS reference materials AGV-1 and G-2. The interferences over those isotopes are corrected mathematically and the uncertainties propagated due to correction methodology are determined for those isotopes. The uncertainties in the determined concentrations of rare earth elements due to interference correction using the proposed isotopes are found to be comparable with those obtained by the commonly used isotopes for various rare earth elements.
- Rare earth elements
- Uncertainty propagation