USGS Bolsters Better References for Mass Spectrometers

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USGS scientists Haiping Qi and Tyler Coplen were key contributors, among 24 contributing scientists, to a recently completed international project to develop isotopic reference materials for mass spectrometers. An article in the journal Analytical Chemistry details the findings.

USGS scientists Haiping Qi and Tyler Coplen were key contributors, among 24 contributing scientists, to a recently completed international project to develop isotopic reference materials for mass spectrometers. An article in the journal Analytical Chemistry details the findings.  

The team established 19 new organic reference materials for stable hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen stable isotope-ratio measurements. These materials will be used by isotope laboratories worldwide to calibrate their mass spectrometers so that the complex instruments will indicate the same measurement results on the same sample.

The announcement of so many isotopic reference materials at one time is unprecedented since isotope measurements of the elements hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen began expanding in the early 1950s. Authoritative standard references for mass spectrometers help advance their use in many disparate fields, including anthropology, archaeology, atmospheric sciences, biology, chemistry, ecology, environmental sciences, food and drug authentication, forensic applications, fossil fuel and biofuel research, geochemistry, geology, medical diagnostics, oceanography and paleoclimatology.

The USGS scientists performed most of the testing of the materials to confirm isotopic homogeneity prior to the distribution of those materials to 11 isotope laboratories that participated in the project.

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USGS Reston Stable Isotope Laboratory