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Picotrace metal-free clean laboratory for sample preparation and purification

Picotrace clean lab facility

The metal-free Picotrace laboratory was developed to provide optimal conditions for the separation and purification of isotopes in light of recent advances in both the sensitivity and analytical precision of mass spectrometers, and the development of new isotope systems that require special conditions.

Picotrace metal-free clean laboratory: To prepare samples for isotopic and elemental analyses on the ICP-MS and TIMS instruments requires a low particulate and metal-free clean lab. The metal-free Picotrace laboratory was developed to provide optimal conditions for the separation and purification of isotopes in light of recent advances in both the sensitivity and analytical precision of mass spectrometers, and the development of new isotope systems that require special conditions. Because workspace is limited, work within the clean lab will be restricted to only applications that require ultra-clean conditions. To ensure that these conditions are maintained, special training will be required for access, and incompatible uses will be disallowed. The Picotrace equipment ensures that working conditions are free of harmful chemicals. The general lab areas (rooms 012, 022, 022a, 026, 26a) are US 209D Class <1000 clean rooms. The conditions in the individual workstations are US 209D Class <10.

The laboratory consists of four isolated rooms with specific purposes:

Room 022a is designated for weighing of samples and spikes, and for acid storage in a ventilated cabinet. Additional bench space is provided for a refrigerator, centrifuge and ultrasonic bath. No dry samples, rock powders or metal devices are allowed beyond this room.

  • Mettler-Toledo XP2U Ultra microbalance for weighing samples up to 2.1g at 0.1ug readability
  • Mettler-Toledo X205TDR for weighing samples up to 81g (dynamic range) at 0.01 mg readability and samples up to 220g at 0.1 mg readability
  • Mettler-Toledo New Classic MF top loading balance

Rooms 022 and 26 contains 7-8 workspaces and serves as general use clean lab chemistry rooms that are maintained for short-term projects and general use chemical separations.

Room 026a contains 4-6 workspaces that provide ultra-clean space for sensitive projects. Only highly experienced analysts undertaking applications consistent with the protocols of this environment will be permitted to use these areas. Distillation of general use, high-purity acids also takes place in this area.

Hydrothermal digestion laboratory: Additional sample preparation facilities for non-sensitive hydrothermal (Parr Bomb) dissolution of accessory minerals such as zircon, monazite, sphene, and apatite for isotope dilution measurements of U and Th is available in room 54A within the Noble Gas Laboratory. This space is not serviced with filtered air but contains a general use hood for cleaning and acid handling, a hood fitted with a HEPA filter for hot plate procedures, a temperature regulated 250°C oven, a low-temperature oven, and countertop space for Parr bomb handling.

Fees: According to use
Please see the user information section


A look inside of the clean laboratory