The noble gas laboratory runs two low-blank fully automated ultra-high vacuum lines using National Instruments cRIO Real-Time system. Two multicollector Nu Noblesse HR mass spectrometers are linked to the automated lines and a variety of techniques are available for extracting noble gases from a vast array of extraterrestrial and terrestrial materials. Elemental and isotopic compositions of helium, neon, argon, krypton and xenon are currently analyzed with high-precision in the UC Davis Noble Gas Laboratory.

Gas Processing Lines And Mass Spectrometers

A fully automated low blank gas processing line. Two stainless steel traps on a single 4K cryocooler is used to separate the heavy noble gas using a distillation technique. The automated line is connected to a 5 multiplier Nu Noblesse mass spectrometer. The quadrupole mass spectrometer monitors the line for leaks and analyzes a split of the sample gas for the algorithm to automatically decide whether, and if so how, to split the sample gas down to the size of appropriate standards.

Another view of the gas processing line with the 4K dual stainless steel cryogenic trap. The dual stainless steel trap allows excellent and efficient separation of Ar from Kr from Xe. The crushers are pumped by a set of turbos that allow samples from one set of crushers to be analyzed while at the same exchanging or baking out the samples from adjacent crushers without any cross contamination. The liquid nitrogen cold finger in the foreground allows heavy noble gases from the least air-contaminated step-crushes to be accumulated for precise determination of relatively uncontaminated Kr and Xe ratios.

The five multiplier Nu Noblesse HR that is connected to the automated gas processing line. You can check out some high-precision krypton data here and some high-precision xenon data here.

A six multiplier Nu Noblesse HR connected to a low blank automated gas processing line. The gas processing line has a stainless steel and a charcoal cryogenic trap that can both go below 10K. A 150W IR diode laser from Teledyne for heating samples is in the black covered enclosure in the background.

Another view of the six multiplier Nu Noblesse HR mass spectrometer. All of the 9 xenon isotopes can be measured in 2 steps. An inline valve allows the source to be isolated from the rest of the spectrometer while changing out the filament. Two getters and two ion pumps maintain an extremely low background in the mass spectrometer. You can check out some high-precision neon data here and high-precision xenon data here.

Gas Extraction Systems

An UV laser ablation system based on a Teledyne 193H excimer laser.

Heating a sample in a double-walled resistively heated vacuum furnace.

Getting ready to heat a meteorite sample with the 150W diode laser.

Low blank in-vacuo crushers for large sample masses. The crushers release gases trapped in fluid or melt inclusions. An inline manometer allows the CO2 contents of the ruptured vesicles to be determined. The crushers, and the UHV line, can be baked out with an automated, remotely controlled system.

We are always open to sharing our equipment designs, expertise and technical knowledge with others. So please feel free to contact us.