With the expansion of the clean laboratory in 2011, we now have 100 m2 of work space divided into 7 rooms that are over-pressured with H16 HEPA-filtered air supplied at an average refresh rate of at least 25 air exchanges per hour. The three main work areas contain 7 HEPA filtered work stations (three from PicoTraceTM and
four designed in house and built locally), two exhausted hoods and a HEPA-filtered weighing room.
(Image above: The original laboratory space with three PicoTraceTMwork stations.)
Our Pb blanks for in-house produced acids are routinely less than 0.025 pg/g. Ultraclean water is produced by distilling Milli-QTM water through a single SavillexTM knee still. The Pb blank of our water is below 0.01 pg/g. All distillation and evapouration boxes are flushed with HEPA-filtered air. We have a separate oven room for high temperature digestions in monel and stainless steel encased Teflon dissolution vessels.
(Image above: Specially-designed work stations in the extension for ultra-clean chemical separation.)
The expansion of the clean laboratories made space for a Thermo-Fisher X-Series quadrupole mass spectometer. Housed within the HEPA-filtered environment of the new facilities, the instrument is mainly used for method development and quality control of chemical purification of elements to be analyzed by either MC-ICP-MS or TI-MS.
(Image above: The Thermo-Fisher X-series quadrupole mass spectrometer.)
Mass Spectrometry Laboratory
Samples prepared in the clean laboratory are analysed on either our Thermo-Fisher Triton Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometer (TIMS) or our Thermo-Fisher Neptune Multi-Collector Inductively Coupled Mass Spectrometer (MC-ICPMS). Both instruments have 9 faraday cups, including a fixed axial faraday, and a single axial Secondary Electron Mulitplier – Ion Counter system. In addition to the standard array of 1011 Ω resistors, both instruments are equipped with one amplifer with a 1010 Ω resistor and another amplifier with a 1012 Ω resistor. All turbo-molecular pumps in the laboratory are backed by Edwards oil-less scroll pumps to reduce organics in the instruments.
(Image above: The Neptune multi-collectorinductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer.)
In addition to the standard glassware supplied with the Nepture, we use an Aridus II desolvating nebuliser when appropriate. The temperature, humidity and air quality are controlled by a PicoTraceTM HEPA-filtered air handling system that includes a 30 KW chilling station that also provides coolant for the two mass spectrometers. The laboratory is equipped with two PicoTraceTM laminar flow stations to prepare samples for analyses by the two mass spectrometers. Power to both instruments and their peripheral devices is conditioned and backed up by separate, dedicated Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS), capable of running the instruments for up to 30 minutes in the event of a power failure.
(Image above: The Triton multi-collector thermal ionization mass spectrometer.)
Sample Preparation Laboratory
Also opened in 2011, a new HEPA-filtered sample preparation laboratory is dedicated to clean processing of meteoritic material for isotopic analyses. This laboratory contains picking microscopes, a petrographic microscope, imagining equipment, a computer-driven micro-drill, Frantz Isodynamic Magnetic separator, a drill press for coring and a small diamond wire (0.25mm diameter wire) saw. An exhaust hood is available for heavy liquid separation of minerals. Meteorite storage cabinets are also flushed with HEPA filtered air.
(Image above: The sample preparation laboratory.)