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A fast separation method for isotope analysis based on compressed nitrogen gas and ion-exchange chromatography technique-a case study of Sr-Nd isotope measurement

Honglin Yuan a,*, Xu Liu b, Zhian Bao a,Kaiyun Chen a, Chunlei Zong a
a State Key Laboratory of Continental Dynamics, Department of Geology, Northwest University, Collaborative Innovation Center of Continental Tectonics, Xi’an 710069, China;b College of Chemistry and Materials Science, Northwest University, Xi’an 710069, China



Abstract:High-purity N2was used to increase the mobile phase flow rate during ion purification of ion-exchange resin. This was performed to improve the efficiency of isotope separation and purification, and to meet the efficiency requirements of rapid multiple-collector-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC-ICPMS) analysis. For Cu isotope separation, our results indicated that at a gas flow rate >60 mL/min, the separation chromatographic peaks broadened and the recovery rate decreased to <99.2%. On the other hand, no significant change in the Cu peaks was observed at a gas flow rate of 20 mL/min and the recovery rate was determined to be >99.9%. The Cu isotope ratio, measured by the standard-sample bracketing method, agreed with reference data within a ±2 SD error range. The separation time was reduced from the traditional 10 h (without N2) to 4 h (with N2), indicating that the efficiency was more than doubled. Moreover, Sr and Nd isotope separation in AGV-2 (US Geological Survey andesite standard sample) accelerated with a 20 mL/min gas flow, demonstrating that with the passage of N2, the purified liquid comprised Rb/Sr and Sm/Nd ratios of <0.000049 and <0.0000015, respectively. This indicated an effective separation of Rb from Sr and Sm from Nd. MC-ICPMS could therefore be applied to accurately determine Sr and Nd isotope ratios. The results afforded were consistent with the reference data within a ±2 SD error range and the total separation time was shortened from 2 d to <10 h.

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Keywords:fast isotope purification; MC-ICPMS; N2 gas flow; Cu isotope; Sr-Nd isotopes

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