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NOSAMS Developments

NOSAMS continuously updates techniques and instrumentation to remain at the forefront of radiocarbon-based research. This involves advances in procedural automation, chemical pre-treatment, novel sample processing (e.g., compound specific radiocarbon analysis, ramped pyrolysis oxidation methods), as well as refinements in AMS technology, ranging from a very low background instrument to operation of a unique gas-accepting ion source.

Hybrid Gas Ion Source Development

NOSAMS has installed a hybrid gas ion source from NEC as the final stage in upgrading the NOSAMS Tandetron AMS system (USAMS). This source can run either graphite samples or carbon dioxide (CO2). The hybrid sputter gas ion source allows direct measurement of radiocarbon in CO2 without first converting to graphite.

Methane Combustion System

NOSAMS is currently developing a methane combustion system.

Ramped Pyrolysis and Oxidation System

The first generation of the Ramped Pyrolysis and Oxidation (RPO) system began development in 2004 for use on Antarctic sediments (Rosenheim et al., 2008).  Since then it has become a powerful tool in carbon cycle studies to better understand carbon sources, 14C content, and thermal reactivity.

Rapid Extraction of Dissolved Inorganic Carbon System

We have developed a new system to efficiently extract dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) from seawater and groundwater samples. REDICS uses a gas-permeable polymer membrane contractor to extract the DIC from an acidified water sample in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2), introduce it to a helium gas stream, cryogenically isolate it, and store it for stable and radiocarbon isotope analysis. More »

Staff Physicist Mark Roberts assembles the gas-ion source at the 0º port.

Development of a Continuous-Flow AMS Sysem

Under a NSF Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) award, NOSAMS has built a new AMS system designed specifically for continuously monitoring 14C in a flowing gas stream. The instrument is capable of continuously analyzing chromatographic effluents and determining the abundance of 14C in individual chromatographic peaks. This system will enable a dramatic expansion of significant and well-established lines of inquiry including: (i) surveys of the distribution of radiocarbon among natural products and thus of the sources of those materials, (ii) quantification of 14C tracers at extraordinary levels of dilution, and (iii) sensitive recognition of fossil-fuel-derived pollutants in natural systems by exploiting their zero content of 14C as a ‘negative label’. More »

Post-docs Albert Benthien and Baoxi Han with the gas-ion source in 2004.

Development of a Gas-Ion Source

NOSAMS has been exploring the capabilities of a gas-accepting microwave ion source originally built at the Atomic Energy of Canada, Chalk River Laboratories. The source uses 2.45 GHz microwaves and a continuously flowing stream of argon gas to sustain a plasma. Carbon containing gases mixed into the argon yield C+ ions that can be extracted as an ion beam. Negative ions are obtained by passing the beam through a magnesium charge-exchange canal. Initial success with this ion source has led to the design of a new gas-ion source. More »

Karl von Reden works on the NEC ion source.

Collaborative Efforts to Improve NEC Ion Source

A collaborative research effort involving National Electrostatics Corp. (NEC) and three AMS laboratories (UC Irvine, University of Arizona, WHOI/NOSAMS) is underway to improve the design of Cs-sputter ion sources manufactured by NEC and currently in use at each of these labs. The NSF-sponsored collaboration is supported for the two-year period beginning in August, 2003. More »