Setting a standard for security

Houk devised, demonstrated and improved an experiment called inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). From searching for nuclear weapon activity to monitoring human health, ICP-MS detects what no other instrument can. Houk’s development of ICP-MS changed standards and methods in detecting and monitoring trace elements.

ICP-MS is not the only method for detecting trace elements, but it does provide the most comprehensive picture to date. It can measure 70 or more elements down to 1 part per trillion, providing more information to be seen with fewer samples and in less time.

Finding trace amounts of elements may seem similar to the task of searching for a needle in a haystack. But, thanks to Houk, it is now done with an extremely sensitive, multielement metal detector.