Isotope ratio analysis of carbon and nitrogen by elemental analyser continuous flow isotope ratio mass spectrometry (EA-CF-IRMS) without the use of a reference gas
A new approach to normalize measured isotope ratios (carbon and nitrogen) by elemental analyser continuous flow isotope ratio mass spectrometry (EA-CF-IRMS) was evaluated. Isotope ratios of samples are altered during the IRMS measurement and must be corrected for both instrumental drifts as well as instrumental isotope fractionation for comparing data within and between laboratories. Traditionally, the isotope ratio of a reference gas is measured intermittently to correct for time dependent changes in isotope fractionation over the course of the measurement. However, this step appears to be redundant as bracketing standards are usually included in a measurement run for comparisons between measurements and laboratories and they can serve, in principle, the same purpose. Here we show that measurements without normalization to the reference gas are on a par in terms of accuracy and precision with those where the reference gas was used when employing an optimized strategy for bracketing samples with reference standards. Abolishment of intermittent reference gas measurements in EA-CF-IRMS analysis has the potential to cut short the analysis time significantly, can help to save costs in commercial IRMS laboratories and may open a new door for instrument developers to design high through-put IRMS instruments.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Themed issue dedicated to Barry Sharp