Tonnes of Equipment for Nanogramme Measuring
On 9 May 2012, a secondary ion mass spectrometer (SIMS) weighing several tonnes was hauled from the GFZ Potsdam to the HZDR Dresden-Rossendorf. These two affiliated Helmholtz institutions thus embark on a course of intensified cooperation, which in future is to include also other Helmholtz research centres and universities. As early as in 2013, new equipment will be installed at the UFZ in Leipzig to investigate biological processes. Networking based on a remote control protocol is planned to vouchsafe for the efficient use of the investment at these three Helmholtz centres. As of 2015, the equipment will be available to researchers worldwide.
Secondary ion mass spectrometry is one of the most important micro-measuring methods for determining trace element concentration. First, ions are directed at the surface of a sample, removing the material, which then is partly re-ionised. These secondary ions are subsequently examined with the mass spectrometer. The GFZ operates a SIMS since 1998, and will be able to conduct measurements five times more precisely and ten times faster with a new device as of winter 2012. At the HZDR, the SIMS is connected to a tandem accelerator, increasing the detection limits by a factor of one hundred to one thousand. A comparable super SIMS existed only at the ETH Zürich so far. In Dresden, the new super SIMS is available to the Helmholtz Institute for Resource Technology Freiberg. This allows for the tracing of the finest distribution of trace metals in deposits. The measuring device can be employed also in the processing and recycling of metallic and mineral raw materials.