Our primary research facilities at Northwestern University include the Radiogenic Isotope Laboratory, the Aqueous Geochemistry Laboratory, and the Stable Isotope Laser Spectroscopy Laboratory. These laboratories compose part of a shared analytical facility in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences supporting complementary functionalities in organic, sedimentary, and gas source stable isotope geochemistry.

Radiogenic Isotope Laboratory

The Radiogenic Isotope Laboratory contains a state-of-the-art “metal free” clean room and a Thermo Scientific Triton multi-collector thermal ionization mass spectrometer (MC-TIMS) funded by the Major Research Instrumentation program at the National Science Foundation. The Radiogenic Isotope Laboratory presently emphasizes the analysis of Ca and Sr isotopes to support research in low-temperature aqueous geochemistry, ground and surface water hydrology, chemical oceanography, paleoceanography, geomicrobiology, chemostratigraphy, and climate change, both modern and ancient.

PicoTrace designed and built the Radiogenic Isotope Laboratory. The chemistry laboratory and TIMS room meet or exceed class 1000 conditions. All work areas, including hoods and counter tops, meet or exceed class 10 conditions. The main chemistry laboratory contains seven exhausting horizontal laminar flow workstations for chromatographic separations, sample evaporations, rock digestions, and other procedures. Additional equipment includes corrosion-free hotplates with time-temperature controllers, a pressure digestion system, sub-boiling stills for acid purification, microscopes, high-precision analytical balances, and a Millipore Milli-Q Element water purifier coupled to an Elix20 RO-EDI pre-treatment system.

Aqueous Geochemistry Laboratory

The Aqueous Geochemistry Laboratory emphasizes the elemental analysis of rocks, soil, water, biologic materials, and experimental laboratory solutions. Major equipment includes a Thermo Scientific iCAP 6500 inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES) and a Dionex DX-120 ion chromatograph (IC). The laboratory also contains auxiliary equipment commonly employed in wet chemical research, including balances, pH meters, centrifuges, water baths, and drying ovens.

Stable Isotope Laser Spectroscopy Laboratory

The Stable Isotope Laser Spectroscopy Laboratory uses wavelength scanned cavity ring down spectroscopy (WS-CRDS) to measure the concentration and carbon isotope composition of carbon dioxide. Major equipment includes a a Picarro G2101-i. A variety of mass flow controllers are available for mixing and diluting calibration and sample gases. The laboratory primarily supports “urban metabolism” studies aimed at understanding carbon cycling in the Chicago metropolitan region. Other activities include method development projects to improve WS-CRDS measurements.

Other Facilities at Northwestern University

Students working in my group also use the Stable Isotope Laboratory in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, as well as facilities in the McCormick School of Engineering, including the Microbiology Laboratory in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Electron Probe Instrumentation Center in the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center.