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In late 2023 a Micro-TIMS mass spectrometer was installed at Cardiff University. This instrument provides the opportunity to analyse exceptionally small samples, revealing environmental variability usually hidden by averaging, enabling countless new research opportunities in geology, biology, archaeology, medicine, chemistry, and environmental science. Compared to mainstream instrumentation, Micro-TIMS measurements are ~10 times more precise at similar sample load, and it can also measure isotope ratios with a much larger dynamic range (when one isotope is vastly more abundant than another).
Micro-TIMS represents a huge technological leap in mass spectrometry, and there is currently only one other mass spectrometer of this type in the UK (BGS), which is dedicated solely to geochronology research. Combining this technological advance with the expertise spread across GW4 and industry partners will enable the GW4 Isotope Microanalysis Community to collaboratively tackle a range of pressing research questions.

Project Summary

The Generator Fund was used to form the GW4 Isotope Microanalysis Community, who met in two themed workshops:

  1. Workshop 1 on environmental change and paleo climate reconstructions
  2. Workshop 2 on modern environmental change and pollution

At these workshops, the team were able to showcase the capabilities of the Micro-TIMS technology, including touring the facility. Time was dedicated to networking and knowledge exchange, with the workshops generating new collaborations across GW4 institutions and with industry partners and raising awareness of the technology and the possibilities for research.

Funds were also used to support the development of an introduction system and a new analytical protocol on the mass spectrometer. The equipment will be listed on the GW4 Facilities and Equipment page.

University of Bath
University of Bristol
Cardiff University
University of Exeter