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A new organic reference material, L-glutamic acid, USGS41a, for δ13C and δ15N measurements − a replacement for USGS41

April 15, 2016


The widely used l-glutamic acid isotopic reference material USGS41, enriched in both 13C and 15N, is nearly exhausted. A new material, USGS41a, has been prepared as a replacement for USGS41.


USGS41a was prepared by dissolving analytical grade l-glutamic acid enriched in 13C and 15N together with l-glutamic acid of normal isotopic composition. The δ13C and δ15N values of USGS41a were directly or indirectly normalized with the international reference materials NBS 19 calcium carbonate (δ13CVPDB = +1.95 mUr, where milliurey = 0.001 = 1 ‰), LSVEC lithium carbonate (δ13CVPDB = −46.6 mUr), and IAEA-N-1 ammonium sulfate (δ15NAir = +0.43 mUr) and USGS32 potassium nitrate (δ15N = +180 mUr exactly) by on-line combustion, continuous-flow isotope-ratio mass spectrometry, and off-line dual-inlet isotope-ratio mass spectrometry.


USGS41a is isotopically homogeneous; the reproducibility of δ13C and δ15N is better than 0.07 mUr and 0.09 mUr, respectively, in 200-μg amounts. It has a δ13C value of +36.55 mUr relative to VPDB and a δ15N value of +47.55 mUr relative to N2 in air. USGS41 was found to be hydroscopic, probably due to the presence of pyroglutamic acid. Experimental results indicate that the chemical purity of USGS41a is substantially better than that of USGS41.


The new isotopic reference material USGS41a can be used with USGS40 (having a δ13CVPDB value of −26.39 mUr and a δ15NAir value of −4.52 mUr) for (i) analyzing local laboratory isotopic reference materials, and (ii) quantifying drift with time, mass-dependent isotopic fractionation, and isotope-ratio-scale contraction for isotopic analysis of biological and organic materials. Published in 2016. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.