The rare stable isotopes (eg 13C and15N which are <1% as abundant as 12C and 14N) are useful analytically because they are chemically identical to the common isotopes but are distinguishable from them by mass spectrometry. They are useful for isotope-dilution microanalysis and tracing of the dynamics of natural processes. Stable-isotope tracers exist for O and N (18O and 15N) for which there are no convenient radioactive tracers. The range of applications of stable isotope analysis is severely limited by current instrumentation which is not user friendly. The analyses are difficult, tedious, and expensive, and there are severe limits on sample size and enrichment quantitation, as well as to sample throughput. Thus, the advantages of stable-isotope labelled tracers are denied to potential users eg in toxicology, food quality control, agriculture, environmental monitoring and biomedicine. The availability of novel instruments, new methods and lower detection limits would help to set standards and to harmonize analytical procedures. Theoretically, continuous-flow IRMS in a variety of novel modes utilizing on-line methods of sample preparation can satisfy potential users. This project aims to develop: (i) a basic knowledge of the chemistry and physics of small sample handling at low enrichments of 2, 13C, 15N and 18P; (oo) hardware to achieve this, (iii) software to facilitate automatic, user-friendly operation. It is expected to (a) increase knowledge sufficiently to allow the development of prototypes of novel modes of instrument, (b) prove the advantages of the technology in new areas, (c) optimize analysts' ability to measure isotope ratios of analytes at low concentration, and (d) set standards for analytical methods.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
DD2 5DA Dundee
DD1 4HN Dundee