Laser ablation ICP-MS (LA-ICP-MS)

Our Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry laboratory is equipped with a ThermoFischer Scientific Element 2 magnetic sector ICP-MS and a Lambda Physik excimer laser (193 nm) with GeoLas optics. The technique is used for microanalysis of trace elements in solid samples, and can determine many elements in the periodic table to high degrees of accuracy and precision. The technique complements electron microprobe analysis, typically measuring trace elements at a lower concentration range (1 ppb - 100 ppm).

Electron microprobe (EMP)

The Electron Microprobe Laboratory, part of the National Geological Facility is equipped with the latest state-of-art JEOL JXA-8530F Hyperprobe Field Emission Electron probe microanalyser. Classical EPMA requires a minimum sample volume of 5 μm in diameter, while use of FEG can improve spatial resolution to volumes below 1 micron (special analytical conditions required). The electron microprobe can be used for imaging purposes (secondary electron images, backscattered electron images, X-ray maps, cathode luminescence), but is mainly used for quantitative analyses of major and minor elements from boron to uranium, down to concentrations of 100 ppm.

X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF)

Equipped with a Thermo ARL 9400 sequential XRF, the X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy lab is capable of qualitatively and quantitatively measuring elements from boron to uranium in solids, in the ppm to 100 wt% concentration range.

Micro X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (µ-XRF)

The Orbis PC SDD is a micro EDXRF analyzer with a Rh tube as X-ray source. The instrument can be used to determine the elemental composition of solids with a spatial resolution of down to 30 μm. The instrument is particularly useful for mapping the spatial distribution of elements relative to each other. Determination of absolute quantities is very challenging. Only elements with atomic numbers above 10 (Na and higher) can be detected. The detection limit varies considerably between elements and ranges from a few to several hundreds of ppm. The instrument is equipped with a poly-capillary optic and two collimators, which can be used when lower spatial resolution is required. The micro-XRF technique is non-destructive and requires little sample preparation. 


The NanoSIMS facility is part of the National Facility for High-Resolution in situ isotope and element analysis and is open to external users. It allows analysis of elemental and isotopic composition of a solid sample with a sub-micrometer resolution (down to 50 nm) with a precision of down to about 1 per mil. It has a wide range of applications, including geology, biology, microbial ecophysiology, biogeochemistry, cosmochemistry, etc.