Submitting research solution samples


The Soil Testing Laboratory has two Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectrometers (ICP-AES) for analyzing extracts of soil, plant and other materials for the concentrations of elements listed on the limits of detection. The ICP instrument used is either an ARCOS SOP (Side-On [or radial view of the] Plasma) or an ARCOS-II MultiView (using either a Side-On [radial] or End-On [axial] view) both made by Spectro Analytical Instruments, Inc.  For multiple, sequential (short-term) measurements, relative standard deviations (RSD) or coefficient of variation (CV) are typically less than 2% for concentrations higher than background equivalent concentrations (BEC).  The following sections outline procedures and costs for Virginia Tech researchers to submit samples for analysis.  Samples from outside of Virginia Tech are not accepted.

Sample Preparation

Samples to be analyzed must be extracted/digested by the researcher and delivered in a clear aqueous solution form, along with information of sample type and solution matrix.  Some sample preparation procedures include EPA methods 3010A, 3015, 3050A and 3051, (search for SW-846A).  If one wishes to have blanks, replicates, spikes, or reference checks analyzed, then these should be submitted as additional samples.  Samples with suspended particles, hydrofluoric acid, nanoparticles or radioactive materials are not acceptable.  The laboratory retains the right to refuse samples.  At least 25 ml of solution should be submitted per sample.  Sufficient volume of blank solution may be required for standard preparation. Please contact Athena Tilley for the appropriate volume needed.  Solutions to be analyzed should be brought to the lab in polypropylene or glass tubes that work in the ICP’s autosampler racks, such as VWR’s 15 mL centrifuge tube with cap (catalog number 21008-214), or Fisher’s 50 mL centrifuge tube (catalog number 12-565-270 or 12-565-271 with rack).

Scheduling of Work

All ICP analytical work must be scheduled in advance.  Contact Athena Tilley in Room 143 Smyth Hall (231-9806 or to set up a time.  Analyses will be scheduled so as to minimize sample storage. 

Note - samples will not be accepted without prior scheduling.


As of September 1, 2017 the cost is $1.28 per sample and is subject to change.   There is a minimum $40 charge per job, and some additional charges may be necessary under certain conditions to defray the cost of analysis.  A HokieMart (ISR) PO number using account code 1244R  and VT Soil Testing Lab – ICP Analysis as the Supplier is required before any work is done.  What is left of your samples must be picked up and removed from the Soil Testing Lab before you can receive the results of your sample analysis.