School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Mass Spectrometry and Laser Ablation Lab

Mass Spectrometry and Laser Ablation Laboratory

The laboratory hosts state-of-the-art equipment to measure trace elements and isotope ratios in a wide range of natural and industrial materials. This information provides the absolute ages and rates of geological and planetary processes, as well as powerful chemical fingerprints of natural phenomena ranging from natural resource formation to environmental change. We have particular expertise in laser ablation measurements, including U-Th-Pb isotope geochronology, trace element analyses and isotopic measurements.

The laboratory principally supports the research of the Crustal Evolution and Ecotoxicology and Environmental Monitoring research groups, but is open to collaboration with researchers in all fields. The instruments are supported by 2 full-time technical staff and a Senior Scientific Officer. For more information about the laboratory, please contact Dr James Darling or Dr Craig Storey.

The laboratory can also offer a range of commercial testing services and collaborative research projects, as part of the University of Portsmouth Geological and Environmental Laboratories (UPGElabs) . For more information, please contact Dr Stephanie Lasalle.

Analytic Jena Plasma Quant MS Elite ICP-MS

Analytic Jena Plasma Quant MS Elite ICP-MS

Combining the rapid scanning of a quadrupole mass spectrometer with industry-leading sensitivity, the PQ Elite provides new opportunities in trace element and U-Th-Pb isotope ratio measurements in our laboratory.

Agilent 7500cs ICP-MS

Agilent 7500cs ICP-MS

Our workhorse quadrupole mass spectrometer for trace element analyses in a wide range of matrices and for U-Th-Pb isotope analyses by laser ablation. A customised interface provides significantly improved sensitivity.

ASI RESOlution excimer laser ablation system

ASI RESOlution excimer laser ablation system

State-of-the-art 193nm excimer laser ablation system for in-situ sampling of solid materials. The system offers controlled ablation of geological materials at spot sizes ranging from 2 to 100um at energy densities up to >20 J/cm2. The laser can be coupled to the PQ Elite and/or Nu Plasma mass spectrometers.

New Wave UP-213 Nd:YAG laser ablation system

New Wave UP-213 Nd:YAG laser ablation system

A solid-state laser for in-situ trace element analysis of a wide-range of materials. Spot sizes range from 8 to >200 um, with energy densities up to 30 J/cm2. The system can be coupled to all of the mass spectrometers, as well as a Spectro Blue ICP-OES system for major/minor element analyses.

Nu Plasma multi-collector ICP-MS

Nu Plasma multi-collector ICP-MS

The Nu Plasma MC-ICP-MS allows us to make high-precision isotope ratio measurements for a wide range of elements. We specialise in laser ablation applications, particularly Pb, Hf and Nd in a range of matrices. The instrument has been upgraded with an enhanced sensitivity interface to benefit such analyses.

Clean laboratory

Clean laboratory

To prepare samples for trace element and isotopic analyses we have a HEPA filtered clean laboratory. Within this lab we have two nominally class 10 laminar flow hoods for chemical preparation and ion-exchange chromatography.

Current Analytical Capabilities 

Solution measurements
  • Elemental analysis of soils, sediments and waters (fresh/ground/marine/tap)
  • Trace element analysis of geological materials
  • Elemental analysis of natural and industrial dusts
  • Pb isotope analysis of geological materials including silicates, sulphides, oxides and phosphates
In-situ measurements by laser ablation
  • Trace element analysis of geological materials, including silicates, sulphides, oxides and phosphates
  • U-Th-Pb isotope analysis of zircon, monazite, allanite, titanite, apatite, rutile…
  • Pb isotope analysis of silicates and sulphides
  • Hf isotope analysis of zircon
  • Nd isotope analysis
  • Elemental and isotopic 2D mapping

A number of our facilities are also available for use in commercial testing and consultancy.