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New Analytical Capabilities in PNNL's Environmental Sciences Laboratory

January 2015

New workspaces and instrumentation developed by PNNL’s Geosciences group now provide unique analytical capabilities at the Environmental Sciences Laboratory (ESL). Located off of Cyprus Street in the 300 Area of the PNNL campus, the ESL now includes:

  • a Class 1000 clean lab for sample processing, with Class 100 and Class 10 workspaces and
  • a ThermoFisher Element-XR HR-ICP-MS,
  • an Applied Spectra J-100 tandem LIBS-LA unit, and

Later this year, in partnership with the Environmental Systems group, a new Class 1000 instrumentation lab will also be added with three major mass spectrometers—two Nu Instruments Multi Collector Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometers (MC-ICP-MS) and a Nu Instruments Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometer (MC-TIMS).

Combined, the new ESL capabilities allow researchers to conduct:

  • ultra-low level analyses for most elements due to dramatically lowered contamination levels,
  • ultra-low level analyses for most elements facilitated due to 100X improvement in sensitivity (Element-XR versus quadrupole ICP-MS),
  • isotope ratio measurements with very high precision for most elements (commonly ±0.002%) for source attribution studies,
  • isotope dilution analysis at very low levels (±1% relative concentrations at 1E-12 g/g levels),
  • high mass resolution inspection and analysis of mass spectra in which gas- or molecular species interferences hinder conventional ICP-MS analyses (e.g., As+ in presence of ArCl+ interference, Fe+ in presence of ArO+ interferences, etc.), and
  • in situ analyses from concentrations of ca. 1 ppb to 10s of percent (nine orders of magnitude).

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