Multiple ion counting ICPMS double spike method for precise U isotopic analysis at ultra-trace levels

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Of the various methods for the measurement of the isotopic composition of U in solids and solutions, few offer both sensitivity and precision. In recent years, the use of ICPMS technology for this determination has become increasingly prevalent. Here we describe a method for the determination of the 235U/238U ratio in very small quantities (≤350 pg) with an accuracy of better than 3‰. We measured several terrestrial standard materials and repeated analyses of the U960 isotopic composition standard. We used a 233U/236U double spike, with multiple ion counting on an unmodified Nu Instruments multicollector ICPMS and a non-standard detector configuration that allows an approximately 20-fold sensitivity gain over the best conventional techniques. This technique shows promise for the detection of isotopic tracers in the environment (for example anthropogenic 238U) at very extreme dilutions, or in cases where the total amount of analyte is necessarily limited. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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International Journal of Mass Spectrometry

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