With two continuous-flow isotope ratio mass spectrometers interfaced with configured elemental analysers, OEA Labs routinely analyse the stable isotope ratios of carbon (13C/12C, δ13C), nitrogen (15N/14N, δ15N), oxygen (18O/16O, δ18O) and sulphur (34S/32S, δ34S) on solid or liquid samples.
In stable isotope analysis, milligram amounts of samples are combusted or pyrolysed at high temperature in a helium carrier gas. After suitable preparation the measurable gases (N2, CO2, CO or SO2) are separated on a chromatography column. A small proportion of this gas is fed into an evacuated ion source where the gas molecules are accelerated into a strong magnetic field. The gas species of different masses are subsequently deflected across a collector array where the individual masses are monitored and quantified against known references.
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