Spectrometer – Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research


Client: Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research
Writer: Diane Hanano
Producer, Director and Editor: Domenico Cutrupi
Voice Over: Linnea Sage

This laboratory houses 5 state-of-the-art mass spectrometers, which geochemists use to “fingerprint” the composition of rocks, soil, water, and gases.

First, the liquid sample is heated – on this particular instrument, to over 7500 degrees Celsius – ions in gas form are generated and aligned into a narrow beam. Then, magnetic and electric fields are applied, which curve the path of the ions according to their mass. Lastly, ions of a particular mass enter the detectors where they are precisely counted.

Today’s mass spectrometers are capable of measuring abundances in the parts-per-billion range, for nearly every element in the periodic table.

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