Elements and isotopes


Elements and isotopes

Our researchers can help analyse your materials and samples using the cutting edge technologies in our elements and isotopes laboratory.

Our laboratory houses an array of top-end instruments for chemically analysing a wide range of gas, liquid and solid samples, down to parts per trillion in some cases. In the lab, researchers are able to analyse:

  • carbon, nitrogen and sulfur (CNS) content of various materials
  • methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide concentrations in gases
  • elemental and isotopic composition of gases, liquids and solids.

Additional analytical chemistry equipment includes instruments for:

  • sample preparation
  • spectroscopy
  • mass spectrometry.

Most samples need to be crushed, powdered, extracted or diluted without process contamination into a form that can be analysed by the instrument. We can assist with preparing samples as required.

Research applications

  • Earth science - dating of mineral grains in rocks and sediments to determine the Earth's history
  • Environmental studies - measuring atmospheric greenhouse gases; analysing all elements from lithium to uranium, in a wide range of samples, such as soils, sewage sludge, additives in oil, cement, slag, and electronic components and parts; measuring compounds in liquid samples, such as river, lake, ocean, wastewater and industrial samples
  • Process engineering - quantifying target chemicals in a production line to meet strict standards

Typical projects

  • Dating minerals in sandstones to understand the ages and sources of sediments contributing to the sandstone
  • Measuring trace metals in soil and sediments to investigate how this affects ecosystems
  • Quantifying trace elements in vegetables and fruit flies and the relationship between them to aid in crop protection
  • Examining the effect of fertilisers on grassland


Our state-of-the-art equipment allows for a range of analyses and discovery. Details and specifications of our available laboratory equipment are provided below.

Carbon, nitrogen and sulfur (CNS) analysis

Instrument Capabilities and features
LECO TruMac Series Macro Determinator Analysis of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur in macro samples (up to 3g for nitrogen; up to 1.5g for carbon/nitrogen; up to 0.3g for carbon/nitrogen/sulfur).
FlashSMART CHNS or O Analysis of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur in micro samples (maximum size 2mg).
Shimadzu TOC-V (with TNM attachment) Total Organic Carbon Analyser Measurement of total carbon (TC), inorganic carbon (IC), total organic carbon (TOC) and total nitrogen (TN) in liquid samples, such as river, lake, ocean, wastewater and industrial samples (max concentration ~100ppm).


Instrument Capabilities and features
Agilent 7890A Gas Chromatograph Analysis of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide
Dionex ICS-2100 Ion Chromatograph Anion analysis (F-, Cl-, NO3-, Cl-, SO42-, Br-) of aqueous samples. Analysis methods can be made to order.


Instrument Capabilities and features
TPS pH, conductivity and dissolved oxygen meter and ion probes pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen and specific ion measurement for aqueous samples.
Mettler Toledo T50 Titrator-Rondolino Automated titration with nine-place sample changer for alkalinity, acid base titration, etc.

Mass spectrometry

Instrument Capabilities and features
Sercon 20-22 Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer Precise measurements of 12C, 13C, 14N, 15N, 16O, 17O, 18O isotopes in gas, liquid or solid samples.
Agilent 8800 Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS) Triple quadrupole mass spectrometer capable of trace metal analysis down to parts per trillion.
Agilent 8800 Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (LA-ICP-MS) Determination of trace element concentrations, down to parts per billion, in a wide range of solid samples.
Syft Technologies VOICE200ultra Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometer (SIFT-MS) High sensitivity, real-time high-throughput quantitative gas analysis. Simultaneous analysis of chemically diverse VOCs and inorganics to pptv level.


Instrument Capabilities and features
Thermo Fisher Gallery Discrete Analyser Automated wet chemistry analyser with extensive applications: water, wastewater, soil, plant tissue, fertiliser, etc.
Agilent Cary 60 UV-VI Spectrophotometer Spectrometer for ultraviolet-visible analysis. Software allows for a wide range of applications.
Perkin Elmer Optima 8300 DV Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometer (ICP-OES) Elemental analysis down to parts per million. Dual view instrument for TDS up to 20% and dynamic linear range.
Los Gatos Research (LGR) Liquid Water Isotope Analyser Measures δ18O and δ2H water in liquid.

Sample preparation

Instrument Capabilities and features
Martin Christ Alpha 1-4 LDplus Freeze Dryer Drying/water removal from solid samples including sediments, plant material and soils.
Bench top preparation Bench area for sample and reagent preparation. Glassware, ovens, dessicators, sinks and gases.
Dionex ASE 350 Accelerated Solvent Extractor (ASE) Extraction of solid and semi-solid samples using common solvents at elevated temperatures (40-200°C) and pressures.
Classie TheOX electronic fusion instrument Preparation of inorganic samples (fusion solutions and fused disks) for X-ray fluorescence (XRF).
Milestone Ultrawave Single Reaction Chamber (SRC) SRC microwave digestion system, up to 199 bars of pressure and 350°C.
Clean room Trace metal analysis preparation.
Analab CleanAcids and Savillex DST-1000 Acid Purification System Sub-boiling stills for purification of acids and reagents such as HNO3, HCI, HF and other solvents.
Balance room Various analytical balances with precision to 0.1 mg and 0.01 mg, as well as an anti-static kit.

Services and equipment hire

Our equipment is available to staff, students, external researchers and commercial organisations at a competitive price. Our laboratory provides both self-service and full-service options.

Our experienced staff can provide training, advice and guidance on the experimental process and the analysis of results, so that you achieve optimal outcomes.

External prices are listed below. Please contact us to discuss any research needs and collaboration opportunities.

Booking instructions

To arrange a consultation, refer to our booking instructions. For internal use, please go to booking information for QUT staff and students (login required).


  • A minimum number of samples applies depending on the instrument or analysis. Extra charges may apply or waiting time may be longer to make a batch.
  • For non-conventional samples requiring non-routine analysis, method development or additional advice on analytical setup and data processing, an additional charge will apply.
  • Charges will apply for additional sample preparation required before analysis (eg. ICPMS acid digestion, LECO dry and grind, IC extraction).

2020 indicative pricing for external researchers

Equipment, service or analysis With technician assistanceUnassisted
Laser ablation ICP-MS
ICP-MS equipment use (half-day) $1,070 $800*
ICP-MS equipment use (full-day) $1,605 $1,190*
ICP analysis (per sample)
ICPOES - Major and trace element $31 N/A
ICPMS - Trace and ultra trace elements $51 N/A
Acid digestion/extraction for ICP analysis
Hotblock extraction $19 N/A
Hot plate digestion $70 N/A
Microwave digestion $110 N/A
Elemental analysis (per sample)
FlashSMART CHNS or O $41 $26
LECO TruMAC CNS $16 $10
TOC-TN (liquid) $18 $10
Solvent extraction (per sample)
Dionex ASE $36 $16
Nutrient analysis (per sample)
Gallery Discrete Analyser (NO3- and NH4+) $10 $5
Anions by IC
Dionex 2100: F-, Cl-, NO3-, Cl-, SO42-, Br- $18 $15
Greenhouse gas analysis
CO2, CH4, N20 by GC $3 $2
VOICE200 Ultra (half day) $500 N/A
VOICE200 Ultra (full day) $875 N/A
IRMS Stable Isotopes Analysis
N2O, N2, CO2 gas by Cyro-IRMS $8 $6
C and N in solids by EA-IRMS $13 $9

2020 indicative pricing for commercial organisations

Equipment, service or analysis With technician assistance
Laser ablation ICP-MS
ICP-MS equipment usage (half-day) $2,580
ICP-MS equipment usage (full-day) $3,855
Batch set up fee $150 per batch
Known analytes (up to 10 compounds) $100 per sample
Unknown analytes (up to 10 compounds) $215 per sample
With operator (half day) $1,225
With operator (full day) $2,140
ICP analysis
ICPOES - major and trace elements $50 per sample
ICPMS - trace and ultra trace elements $85 per sample
Acid digestion/extraction for ICP analysis
Hot block extraction $35 per sample
Hot plate digestion $100 per sample
Microwave digestion $170 per sample
Elemental analysis
Elemental analysis: O (mg samples) $90 per sample
Elemental analysis: CHNS (mg samples) $90 per sample
Bulk elemental analysis: CNS $35 per sample
TOC-TN (liquid) $35 per sample
Solvent extraction
Dionex ASE $82 per sample
Nutrient analysis
Gallery Discrete Analyser (NO3 and NH4) $25 per sample
Anion by IC
Dionex 2100: F-, Cl-, NO3-, Cl-, SO42-, Br- $42 per sample
IRMS stable isotopes analysis
N2O, N2, CO2 gas by Cyro-IRMS $17 per sample
C and N in solids by EA-IRMS $30 per sample  
Greenhouse gas analysis
N2O, CH4, CO2 gas by GC $10 per sample

Sample submission forms

For assistance with preparing, labelling and submitting samples, please contact us.

Capability team

Associate Professor Charlotte Allen

Director and Principal Research Fellow (Elements and Isotopes)

Dr Sunny Hu

Laboratory Coordinator (Analytical)

Mr Rene Diocares

Laboratory Coordinator (Stable Isotopes)

Mr Shane Russell

Senior Technician (Analytical)

Miss Karine Harumi Moromizato

Technologist (Laser Ablation and XRF)

Dr Pamela Limpin

Technologist (Chromotography)

Dr Sam Ghidan

Technologist (ICPOES and ICPMS)

Dr John Caulfield

Laboratory Coordinator (LA-ICPMS)

Ms Erica Porter

Technologist (LA-ICPMS)

Contact us

Central Analytical Research Facility - Elements and Isotopes Laboratory

Level 6, P Block
Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane QLD 4000 Australia

Postal address

Central Analytical Research Facility
GPO Box 2434
Brisbane QLD 4001

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