The Mysteries of Noisy Single-Particle ICP-TOF-MS Data: Insights from SciX 2023

Published on: 

At SciX 2023 in Sparks, Nevada, Alexander Gundlach-Graham from Iowa State University delivered a groundbreaking talk on the origins of noise in single-particle ICP-TOF-MS data and its impact on particle analysis accuracy. His presentation unveiled a promising Monte Carlo simulation approach to better understand and mitigate signal variability in this cutting-edge analytical technique.

At SciX 2023 at the Golden Nugget Resort in Sparks, Nevada, attendees were treated to a talk titled "The Origins of Noisy Single-Particle ICP-TOF-MS Data and How to Use It." This enlightening presentation was delivered by Alexander Gundlach-Graham, a researcher hailing from Iowa State University.

This talk was given in the Central Pacific A/B/C room at the Golden Nugget Resort. Gundlach-Graham dove into the complexities of single-particle inductively plasma time-of-flight mass spectrometry (spICP-TOF-MS). This cutting-edge technology was instrumental in the analysis of mixtures containing nano- and micro-particles across a wide spectrum of sample types. Scientists employed spICP-TOF-MS to classify particle fractions of anthropogenic origin based on multi-element signatures and to capture critical data on particle size distributions and number concentrations of various particle types.

Gundlach-Graham's talk delved deep into the intricacies of spICP-TOF-MS, shedding light on the importance of understanding sources of variance that can affect classification accuracy. The three primary sources of signal variance in spICP-TOF-MS measurements discussed were particle size distributions, mass fraction variability, and Poisson detection statistics. These factors played a crucial role in determining the detectability of elemental signals within individual particles and the overall precision of classification models designed to differentiate between natural and anthropogenic particle types.

To gain a comprehensive understanding of how these noise sources impact spICP-TOF-MS data, Gundlach-Graham and his team developed a sophisticated Monte Carlo simulation. This simulation effectively combines multiple sources of variance typically encountered in spICP-TOF-MS measurements. The results of this simulation were nothing short of remarkable, as they closely matched real-world data, indicating that Monte Carlo simulations could serve as a promising tool for exploring the significance of noise sources in spICP-TOF-MS measurements.

During the presentation, attendees were privy to an in-depth discussion of the Monte Carlo simulation approach, providing valuable insights into its mechanics. Gundlach-Graham also shared the current state of knowledge regarding the most prominent causes of signal variability in spICP-TOF-MS data. This newfound understanding holds immense promise for researchers and scientists working with this powerful analytical technique, as it paves the way for more accurate and reliable results in their work.


In conclusion, SciX 2023's Central Pacific A/B/C room in the Golden Nugget Resort was the stage for a groundbreaking presentation by Alexander Gundlach-Graham of Iowa State University. His talk on "The Origins of Noisy Single-Particle ICP-TOF-MS Data and How to Use It" offered attendees a deeper insight into the world of spICP-TOF-MS and its underlying sources of signal variance. As the field of analytical chemistry continues to advance, Gundlach-Graham's work promises to empower researchers in their quest for precision and accuracy in particle analysis.

This article was written with the help of artificial intelligence and has been edited to ensure accuracy and clarity. You can read more about our policy for using AI here.


(1) Gundlach-Graham, A. The Origins of Noisy Single-Particle ICP-TOF-MS Data and How to Use It. Presented at SciX in Sparks, Nevada, October 10, 2023.