Minimising 12C3+ interference on 4He+ measurements in a noble gas mass spectrometer
Measurements of helium isotopes used for geochronological studies are subject to interferences from 12C3+ and HD+. The 12C3+ interference was studied on a Nu Instruments Noblesse mass spectrometer which has sufficient mass resolution to measure the interference on the 4He+ peak due to 12C3+ directly, by setting the magnet at the relevant peak shoulders. Helium sensitivity varies with source trap current. Increasing the source trap current increases the electron fluence, and hence the probability of ionisation, within the source. The source trap current on the Noblesse is typically held at ∼400 μA. Increasing the trap current to 550 μA increases sensitivity to 4He+ approximately two-fold, but 12C3+ increases approximately 17 times. The 4He+ and 12C3+ peak shoulders at m/z = 4 are narrow, despite the high mass resolution, and consequently any instrument drift can cause the peak positions to be lost. However, it is shown that measurement of 12C2+ at m/z = 6 can be used to correct for this interference, allowing the intensity of the broad flat top of m/z = 4 to be used.