Glow Discharge Mass Spectrometry (GDMS) Analysis

Important: Please note that some of our services and prices have changed.

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Contact us

For accurate and timely assistance with measurement requirements for characterising your high-purity metals, please contact:

Brad Methven
Telephone: 613-998-4237


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Targeted industries

Alternative energy, medical devices, security and semiconductor sectors


Technical service highlights

NRC's Glow Discharge Mass Spectrometry (GDMS) service provides Canadian and international clients with accurate and timely, inorganic mass spectrometric analysis at a level of quality and service expected of a world class ISO/IEC 17025 accredited National Metrology Laboratory. This GDMS laboratory is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada for specific tests or calibrations as listed on the Scope of Accreditation (PDF, 25 KB).

What we offer

GDMS research officer validating a technical report.

Typical test pin geometry sample withdrawn from GDMS cell.

Glow Discharge Mass Spectrometry (GDMS) enables the elemental analysis of solid samples by sputtering in a low-pressure DC argon discharge. The sputtered atoms are ionized in this plasma and extracted into the mass spectrometer for separation and detection. When the spectrometer is operated in high resolution mode, this provides a powerful technique for the analysis of all trace and ultra-trace elemental constituents of inorganic materials. Because samples are analyzed in solid form, laborious and error prone dissolution procedures inherent to such techniques as Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry are avoided. Additionally, GDMS is free from the matrix dependence response plaguing most other elemental analysis techniques, minimizing the need for matrix matched standards.

Advantages of GDMS include:

  • direct solid sample analysis with minimal sample preparation
  • full element coverage of over nine decades of concentration
  • high detection power enabling determinations at PPB levels in a single analysis
  • rapid analysis time (approx. 1 to 1.5 hours including sample prep)

Why work with us?

The Chemical Metrology Group at National Research Council is the only high resolution GDMS laboratory in Canada. This world class facility specializes in trace and ultra-trace analysis of high purity conductive and semi-conductive materials and is staffed by highly skilled and experienced scientists who undertake custom application of GDMS analysis to new or difficult materials. In addition, routine testing services for Canadian and international clientele is provided.

Two high resolution VG 9000 GDMS systems (Thermo instruments) are operated with cooled pin cell sources, providing semi quantitative elemental surveys of both conducting and semi conducting solids, e.g., gallium, cadmium, tellurium, gallium arsenide, cadmium selenide, cadmium zinc telluride. The instruments are capable of detecting impurities from the percent level down to sub parts per billion directly in the solid in a single run, which allows for a rapid turn around of submitted samples.


National Research Council's GDMS facility is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada to ISO/IEC 17025 standards (International Organization for Standardization). All data produced are traceable to the International System by the use of appropriate international reference standards for instrument calibration.

Results are accompanied by stated uncertainties, consistent with ISO/IEC 17025 guidelines.


The prices listed for GDMS services are subject to periodic review.

Pricing and ordering

Order number Description price
A33-11-01-01 Up to 60 elements at standard detection level:
10 scans are carried out across the spectra of the elements to be determined. This offers sufficient detection capability for most samples.
A33-11-01-02 Up to 60 elements at enhanced detection level:
enhanced detection limits are achieved by acquiring additional scans across the spectra of the elements to be determined. These detection limits are recommended for samples of very high purity (6N purity or higher).
A33-11-01-03 Up to 30 elements at enhanced detection level:
enhanced detection limits are achieved by acquiring additional scans across the spectra of the elements to be determined. These detection limits are recommended for samples of very high purity (6N purity or higher).
A33-11-01-04 Custom analysis (including samples in powder form):
Inquire for pricing and availability prior to ordering.
Custom fee on request

All fees shown in Canadian dollars.

If your company already has a blanket agreement in place to purchase GDMS analysis services from us, please complete the request to order our services and submit it electronically.

If your company would like to negotiate a blanket agreement with us to simplify the ordering process, please contact us at

If you do not have or wish to have a blanket agreement at the moment, and want to order our services, please complete the Standard Agreement for GDMS Analysis Services (PDF, 249 KB), print it, have it signed by an authorized officer of your company and send it to NRC by fax to 1-613-993-8915, e-mail to, or post to:

National Research Council of Canada
M-12 Rm B23
1200 Montreal Rd.
Ottawa, ON
Canada K1A 0R6

We will ask you that you include the first page(s) of the agreement document with your shipped sample to facilitate a fast turn-around time.

The maximum turn-around time is 30 days from receipt of the sample. However, the typical turn-around time is within one week of receipt of the sample, excluding holidays, vacations and any unusual circumstances.

If your sample is unusual (type, shape, or condition) or if you are a new client, please contact our laboratory first, at 1-613-998-4237, or at


Brad Methven
Telephone: 613-998-4237

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