We employ a variety of state-of-the-art instrumentation, facilities and methods in our programs including mass spectrometry to make precise measurements, a clean laboratory to enhance confidence in analyses, a drill core lab to store and process drill core samples, and novel technologies to deliver science education at a distance.
To analyze elements and their isotopes with great accuracy we use a technique known as Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). Our Thermo iCAP Q quadrupole ICP-MS with Collision Cell Technology allows us to quickly measure elemental concentrations in diverse types of samples over a large dynamic range. The Thermo Neptune multicollector ICP-MS (MC-ICP-MS) can precisely determine isotope ratios of most elements. The mass spectrometers are sensitive enough that special clean laboratory precautions are necessary.
Our clean lab is designed to prevent contamination of samples, especially by metals. The facility includes about 40 linear feet of ISO 4 (Class 10) cleanroom workspace for sample preparation, and a ~900 ft2 workspace at ISO 7 (Class 10,000) conditions for analysis including both the Thermo Neptune and Thermo iCAP Q mass spectrometers.
To address metal contamination specifically, the lab was constructed having no exposed metal. This is accomplished by having all normally metal parts constructed of non-metal corrosion-resistant materials such as polypropylene.
Drill Core Lab
To look back in time we can analyze drill core samples. Our lab is fully equipped with all the tools needed including a diamond blade saw, rock crusher and microscope. We also house a large repository of existing core samples.
To teach science to non-scientists we are developing and deploying technologies such as interactive and adaptive tutorials and projects to in an online course, Habitable Worlds (SES 106). We can use Gigapan systems, cameras with advanced spherical tripod heads, unmanned aerial vehicles, seamless 360-degree digital video and custom software to capture locations around the world and bring students on field trips though their computers.