The Plasma Chemistry Laboratory at CAIS is an analytical geochemistry laboratory specializing in the analysis of trace elements and isotope ratios in biological, environmental, geological, archaeological and other materials.

Cell pellets, proteins, and enzymes are analyzed by solution-based ICP-MS and/or ICP-OES. Digestion solutions containing dilute acids may be submitted. If your samples denature or are unstable at low pH they will need to be digested with concentrated acid and heating. If you plan to digest the samples yourself, please see our Sample Preparation Guidelines. Alternatively, we provide digestion services for these samples. Please contact us if you require digestion, so we can tailor methods to your project.

Cell pellets: The entire contents of the tube will be digested, so cells must be washed so that none of the metal-containing media is present. The tube should be pre-weighed, then weighed again once the liquid has been removed. Pellet masses must be provided on the sample submission form. Please also provide an empty tube for use as a tube blank. We normally request approximately 100 mg of sample, but this can vary depending on the metal(s) of interest (specifically their limits of detection and their expected uptake in your cells). Please contact us if you have small samples and/or want to analyze metals that are not easily taken up by your cells. Note that the 100 mg guideline is for cells that have been pelleted and had the liquid aspirated off. Freeze-drying will result in lower masses for the same number of cells, but is also acceptable.

Proteins & enzymes: A sub-sample of your protein solution will be digested. In order to know what volume you need to send, please let us know what metal(s) you want to measure, the protein concentration (M) and the expected binding stoichiometry (moles of metal per mole of protein) for each metal. The volume required will depend on these factors, as well as the limit of detection for each metal.



Sample Submission Guidelines

If you are a first-time client (or a repeat client requesting a different service) please contact us before sending your samples so we can help you choose the right analysis for your samples. If you are a returning client please give us a heads-up when you’re sending samples.

1. For water samples, or if you plan to do the digestions yourself please refer to our Sample Preparation Guidelines for information on preparing the samples.

2. Label tubes clearly with a unique identifier. Close the lids tightly and seal well with parafilm. For liquids, cell pellets, or animal tissue, seal the tubes in a plastic bag with some paper towel or an absorbent pad in case of leaks (for fizzy liquids or alcohol please double-bag, with absorbent in the second bag as well). Package in a crush-proof box or container. Proteins, cell pellets, and animal tissue should be shipped frozen in an insulated box with dry ice.

3. Complete the Plasma Chemistry Laboratory Sample Submission Form, and include a printed copy in the shipment (outside of the bag for animal, cell pellet, or liquid samples). For cell pellets and animal tissue please record the sample weights on the sample submission form. If you are sending more than 10 samples, please also e-mail us an electronic copy of the sample submission form or a sample inventory.

4. Address the package to:

Attn: Plasma Chem Lab
Center for Applied Isotope Studies
120 Riverbend Rd.
Athens, GA 30602

Please note we do not receive samples on weekends or holidays so please DO NOT select any Saturday or weekend delivery options. For frozen samples, please try to time your shipment so the samples do not spend the weekend on a truck or in a warehouse (i.e., ship them on a Monday or Tuesday so they arrive on a Wednesday or Thursday).

5. Local clients may drop off samples with a completed sample submission form Monday – Friday (excluding UGA holidays) 8:30am – 4:30pm.



Turnaround: Standard turnaround time is 4 – 12 weeks, but it may take longer if we run into unanticipated issues. Our current rates are in the tables below.

Rates & Fees: Our standard prices and discounts are in the tables below for samples received after December 31, 2023, unless you have an existing estimate dated less than one year earlier and have not yet submitted those samples.

Quotes & Purchase Orders: If you require an estimate or formal quote, please let us know the sample type/matrix, number of samples, type of analysis and sample preparation required, and what elements you need measured. Please reference your quote No. on your submission form. If you plan to use a purchase order (PO) and you work at a university or large company you will most likely need a formal quote before you can request a PO, which should be done before submitting samples. Please reference the PO No. on your submission form and send a copy of your PO to

Payments: Please see the CAIS FAQ.

New clients: Please contact us prior to submitting samples.

For training, demos, or large/ongoing projects please contact us.

Sample Processing, per sample
Pre-processing (freeze-drying, milling, etc)$2
Pre-processing, liquids (dilution, acidification, etc.)$2
Water, Total Dissolved$5
Water, Total Recoverable$25
Digestion/leach (includes dilution)$27.50
Elemental Analysis, per sample
ICP-OES, 1 element$33
ICP-MS, 1 element$38.50
Additional element, standard, per element per sample$1.50
Additional element, non-standard, per element per sample$6.50
DMA, Total Hg, along with ICP$20
DMA, Total Hg only$40
Minimum charge per invoice$250
USG & Emory discount-20 %
UGA discount (contact us for small sample sets or Rush service)-20 %; no min.
Indigenous peoples discountSee FAQ
Sample returnSee FAQ
Element Lists (text view)

ICP-OES (Listed in order of atomic number)

  • Standard Elements: Li, Be, B, Na, Mg, Al, Si*, P, K, Ca, Ti*, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Se, Sr, Mo, Ag, Cd, Sn*, Ba, Tl, Pb, Ce.
  • Non-standard Elements: S, Sc, Ga, Ge*, Rb, Y, Ru, Rh, Pd, Sb*, Te, Cs, La, Pr, Nd, Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb, Lu, Re, Ir, Pt, Au, Bi, Th, U.

ICP-MS (Listed in order of atomic number)

  • Standard Elements: Li, Be, Na**, Mg, Al, K**, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Ga, As, Se, Rb, Sr, Ag, Cd, Cs, Ba, Tl, Pb, U.
  • Non-standard Elements: Sc, Ti*, Ge*, Y, Mo, Ru, Rh, Pd, Sn*, Sb*, Te, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb, Lu, Re, Ir, Pt, Au, Bi, Th.


*  Not available for some sample types; please inquire

**ICP-MS for trace levels only

DMA, solids b50 mg250 mg
DMA, liquids0.25 mL1 mL
Soil or plant, trace a,b200 mg500 mg
Soil or plant, major a,b30 mg100 mg
Animal tissue, trace b100 mg500 mg
Animal tissue, major b30 mg200 mg
Bones & teeth200 mg2000 mg
Cell pellets c30 mg100 mg
Protein, for digest dinquireinquire
Protein, digested dinquireinquire
Organic solids b30 mg500 mg
Organic liquids0.03 mL1 mL
Water3 mL15 mL
a. Powdered
b. Dry weight
c. Wet weight, after washing and aspirating liquid
d. Depends on protein concentration and binding stoichiometry