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.


Analytical Fees & Turnaround Times

We would like to continue to provide you the excellent service to which you have become accustomed. Economic shortfalls, increased overhead, and supply chain disruptions are affecting us all, and our rates have not yet caught up with costs. We will be revising our rates in late summer/early fall 2022 and will announce the new rates well in advance. In the meantime, the Center is reallocating resources, which will result in slower turnaround times for the Plasma Chemistry Laboratory. Rather than risk a decrease in data quality, we have made the difficult decision to reinstate our minimum order charge and adjust our turnaround times accordingly. Standard turnaround time is now 2 – 8 weeks.

For all external (non-UGA) samples received after May 15, 2022: the minimum charge per invoice is $200, and we are suspending all Rush (expedited) service.

For all UGA samples please contact us directly to inquire about small sample sets and Rush (expedited) service.

If you require a formal quote, we would be happy to provide one if you let us know the sample type, number of samples, type of analysis and sample preparation required, turnaround time, and what elements you need. For training, demos, or large/ongoing projects please contact us. We accept payment by check, credit card, purchase order, or bank wire. UGA clients may also pay using their SpeedType. If you plan to pay by wire, please let us know in advance. A $25 wire fee will be added to your quote and invoice. If you plan to pay by 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 send us a copy of your PO.


Sample Prep Analytical Fees Chart
StandardInternal (USG/Emory)
Pre-processing (freeze-drying, milling, sieving, ashing), 1-5 samples$5n/a
Pre-processing (freeze-drying, milling, sieving, ashing), 6 or more samples$10$5
Digestion/leach (includes dilution), per sample
Dilution (for submitted solutions that are out of range), 1-5 samples$5
Dilution (for submitted solutions that are out of range), 6 or more samples
ICP-OES Analytical Fees Chart, per sample
StandardInternal (USG/Emory)
WW-CAL, 1-2 elements
WW-CAL 3-20 elements (includes pre-set 20-element program)$40$25
WW-CAL 21-30 elements
Additional elements, each
ICP-MS Analytical Fees Chart, per sample
Internal (USG/Emory)
One standard, 1-5 elements
One standard, 6 or more elements (includes pre-set 20-element program)$50
Additional standard, 1-5 elements
Additional standard, 6 or more elements
Laser ablation
Element & Standard Lists (periodic table view)




Element & Standard Lists (text view)

ICP-OES Elements & Standards (Listed in order of Atomic Number)

  • WW-CAL Standards: 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.
  • Internal Standard: In.
  • Measureable by ICP-OES upon request: S, Sc, Ga, Ge, Rb, Y, Zr, Nb, Ru, Rh, Pd, Sb, Te, Cs, La, Pr, Nd, Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb, Lu, Hf, Ta, W, Re, Os, Ir, Pt, Au, Bi, Th, U.
  • Not recommended for ICP-OES: Cl, Br, I, Hg.
  • Not measurable by ICP-OES: H, He, C, N, O, F, Ne, Ar, Kr, Tc, Xe, Pm, Po, At, Rn, Fr, Ra, Ac, Pa, Np, Pu, Am, Cm, Bk, Cf, Es, Fm, Md, No, Lr, Rf, Db, Sg, Bh, Hs, Mt, Ds, Rg, Cn, Nh, Fl, Mc, Lv, Ts, Og.

ICP-MS Elements & Standards (Listed in order of Atomic Number)

  • CLMS‐2A Standard: 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.
  • WW‐CAL2 Standard: Li, Na, K, Ti, Mo.
  • CMS‐1 Standard: Sc, Y, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb, Lu, Th, U.
  • Internal Standard: In.
  • Measurable by ICP‐MS upon request:  Ge, Ru, Rh, Pd, Sn, Sb, Te, Re, Ir, Pt, Au, Bi.
  • Not Recommended for ICP‐MS: B, Si, Cl, Ca, Br, Hg, P, S, Zr, Nb, Tc, I, Hf, Ta, W, Os.
  • Not measureable by ICP‐MS: H, He, C, N, O, F, Ne, Ar, Kr, Xe, Pm, Po, At, Rn, Fr, Ra, Ac, Pa, Np, Pu, Am, Cm, Bk, Cf, Es, Fm, Md, No, Lr, Rf, Db, Sg, Bh, Hs, Mt, Ds, Rg, Cn, Nh, Fl, Mc, Lv, Ts, Og.