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Logotyp för Naturhistoriska riksmuseet
Logotyp för Naturhistoriska riksmuseet


The Vegacenter is built around two inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometers (ICP-MS) connected to a laser ablation (LA) system for microsampling.


The Vegacenter is built around two inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometers (ICP-MS) connected to a laser ablation (LA) system for microsampling.

A schematic overview of the instrument set-up is shown below.

Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectro-metry (ICP-MS)

The Vegacenter is currently equipped with a Nu Plasma III high-resolution multi-collector ICP-MS and an AttoM high-resolution single collector ICP-MS, both by Nu Instruments Ltd. The Nu Plasma III is fitted with 16 Faraday cups and 5 ion counters allowing high-precision isotope analysis. The Nu Attom is fitted with one ion counter and one Faraday cup suitable for isotope and trace-element analysis.

Both instruments allow the analysis of either aspirated solutions or aerosols produced by laser ablation of solid materials.

Laser Ablation ICP-MS

The Vegacenter is also equipped with an ESI New Wave Research NWR193UC laser ablation system. The core of the instrument comprises a Coherent ExciStar XS ArF Excimer laser (UV, 193 nm wavelength). The laser can be focused to spot sizes of 3-150 micron, enabling flexible micro-sampling of solid materials. The system is equipped with a TwoVol2 ablation cell, which allows mounting of samples of various shapes and sizes. A small cyclonic cup ensures efficient aerosol transport and washout. Mounted samples are imaged in real time using a built-in optical train with crossed-polarized, reflected light and coaxial light capabilities.

The laser ablation system can be connected to either of the two mass spectrometers, or to both simultaneously in a split-stream set-up. The connection to both mass spectrometers will allow simultaneous trace-element and isotope analysis on ablated aerosols. Examples of applications are U-Pb dating and Hf isotopes in zircon, U-Th-Pb dating and REE, Y in monazite, etc.

Analytical methods

The Vegacenter offers a wide range of analytical methods. Currently established analytical procedures include:

Solution multi-collector ICP-MS:

  • Si, S, Fe, Sr, Nd, Hf, Pb isotopes

Solution single collector ICP-MS:

  • Trace-elements
  • Single-particle ICP-MS (gold)

Laser ablation single collector ICP-MS:

  • Trace-elements in silicates and phosphates
  • U-Pb zircon
  • U-Th-Pb monazite
  • REE in garnet/apatite/accessory minerals
  • Trace-elements in carbonates
  • LA single-particle ICP-MS (gold)
  • Trace-element mapping (e.g. garnet, soil)

Laser ablation multi collector ICP-MS:

  • U(-Th)-Pb geochronology of accessory minerals
  • Hf isotopes in zircon
  • Pb isotopes in feldspar, sulfide, silver, pottery
  • Sr isotopes in (hydroxyl/fluor-)apatite, calcite, plagioclase
  • B isotopes in mica

Other analytical methods may exist or can be developed collaboratively.

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