A skimmer located below the usual observation height of an inductively coupled plasma (ICP) allows the axial channel region of the ICP to flow through the central hole of the skimmer while the outer Ar flow is deflected. Signal-to-background (S/B) ratios and the estimated detection limits measured immediately above the skimmer were generally 5 to 20 times superior to the best results obtained by the conventional ICP system. The highest S/B lines possessed wavelengths greater than 300 nm. Matrix effect studies on the Ca-PO<sub>4</sub> and the Ca-Al systems revealed that the skimmed plasma was as free of vaporization-atomization interference as the conventional plasma, but easily ionizable elements produced a greater level of suppression/enhancement effects. Electron number densities, as determined via the series limit line merging technique, were lower in the skimmed plasmas as compared with the conventional ICP's.

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