Isotope Clean Lab

The Isotope Clean Lab is a 600 square foot clean chemistry lab with seven Class-100 workspaces for preparation of rock, mineral, soil, plant and water samples for chemical and isotopic analysis under low-contamination conditions.  As a basic component of the Banner group’s research programs, the lab is used to

  1. dissolve rock, mineral, soil and plant samples,
  2. add isotopically-enriched tracers to samples for isotope dilution measurements,
  3. purify selected elements by ion exchange for mass spectrometric analysis.  Trace metals in water samples are also separated by iron-hydroxide co-precipitation.
  4. Transfer samples onto filaments prior to loading into the thermal ionization mass spectrometer.
  5. Clean field apparatus for sampling waters for low contamination trace element and isotope analysis. These apparatus include filters, peristaltic pumps, rainwater samplers, and lysimeters.

Lab Images

The lab contains the following:

HEPA-filtered, laminar-flow work areas, for sample preparation or column chemistry

Hot plates in HEPA-filtered, laminar-flow environments for sample reaction and dry-down

Wash-down exhaust hood for perchloric acid use

Teflon stills for the preparation of ultra-clean reagents

Electronic analytical and top-loading balances

NANO-pure deionizing water purification system

Enriched isotope spikes and standard solutions are available in this lab for isotope composition and isotope dilution analysis of U-series isotopes, Rb-Sr, and rare earth elements (including Sm-Nd).  Samples for Sr isotopic analysis may be purified using either EIChroM SR-spec resin or conventional cation resin. Methyllactic acid (HIBA) and HDEHP columns are available for REE chemistry; and U/Th/Pb chemistry is performed on anion resin columns.  The lab is currently achieving blanks of <5 pg for Sr and <2 pg for U and Th.

Training

In order to be able to work in the lab, you need to complete some lab safety courses. You are required to take
1) Online Hazard Communication class,
2) Online General Lab Safety class.  Classes 1 and 2 can be accessed at: http://www.utexas.edu/safety/ehs/train/,
3) The fire extinguisher class (not online but only takes an hour — schedule is at http://www.utexas.edu/safety/ehs/train/courses.html
4) Site specific training (hazard communication). You will need to schedule this directly with Jay Banner after you have completed the online courses.

If you will be conducting U and Th isotope analyses, then you will need to take an additional Radiation Safety course. UT’s radiation safety manual, the reference for this course, can be downloaded here.

Links

Thermal ionization mass spectrometer

Isotope geochemistry programs at UT Austin

Office of Environmental Health and Safety at UT Austin (Laboratory Safety Manual)