We report a pilot study of high-precision differential isotopic ratio measurements made on replicate samples of pure carbon dioxide using three instruments of identical manufacture. Measurement protocols were designed to explore the effects of sample size, ion source conductance, and inlet changeover equilibration time on the raw measurements. Our goal was better understanding of factors that influence these measurements in order to establish procedures for highly reproducible and accurate determinations of Reference Material (RM) isotopic compositions. Evaluation and modeling of reported data illuminated effects consistent with two instrumental memory sources one short-lived (t1/2 = 10 s) and the other long-lived (t1/2 = 6 10 min), uncompensated by normal background measurements that can significantly influence measurements made by the dual inlet method. These biases, proportional to the difference in isotopic compositions between the measured sample and reference gases, decrease in magnitude with increasing sample size source conductance, and equilibration time. We observed biases as high as 0.01% difference between sample and reference gases. These memory sources may be responsible for measured delta-13C values of RMs generally being highly reproducible within any single laboratory but less reproducible among independent laboratories. The magnitude of the bias is consistent with the ranges of delta-13C values reported in prior laboratory intercomparisons. Uncertainties are most likely due to high and variable long-lived memory among the instruments tested.
Citation: Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
Pub Type: Journals
carbon dioxide, gas isotope ratio mass spectrometer, GIRMS, ion source materials, isotopic measurements