The Micro-compositional analysis laboratory (MCAL) of NIU Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences provides a variety of analytical services on solid and liquid samples for academic research conducted at NIU and at other universities, and in the private sector.
Our laboratory is equipped with a Thermo Element 2 sector-field ICP-MS for quantitative characterization of elements in aqueous solutions, in concentrations ranging from ppt to ppm levels. Our ICP-MS can also be used in tandem with an excimer laser for in situ micro-analytical elemental characterization of solids and glasses (LA-ICP-MS). An array of non-destructive techniques allows for imaging of microscopic samples (by SEM) and in situ microscopical scale semi-quantitative elemental characterization and compositional mapping (by EDS combined to the SEM), quantitative to semi-quantitative major and trace element analysis in solids, powders or liquids (by XRF), and mineral identification (by XRD).
The instrumentation is relevant to research in geosciences, environmental sciences, chemistry, anthropology, archaeology, material science and engineering, forensics, biology and biochemistry, biotechnologies, public health and beyond.
Research questions to which our laboratory currently contributes include, for instance, the monitoring of toxic trace metals in groundwaters and surface waters used as drinking water in Myanmar, Madagascar and Mexico, the distribution of metals across the various phases present in magmatic-hydrothermal systems and implications for ore deposit formation, the changes in trace element distribution in volcanic deposits and implications for the evolution of the Earth’s crust and future volcanic eruptions, the characterization of micro-fossil distribution across sections of Antarctica marine sediments and implications for paleoclimates.