Soil sample from the Jena experiment. The soil cores are examined at their various depths for their carbon content and chemical composition. (© S. Héjja/MPI-BGC)

Spectrometry Laboratory (SpecLab)

Atomic spectroscopic and chromatographic analyses

The spectrometry laboratory specialises in the analysis of water, plant and soil samples as well as various soil extracts using ICP atomic emission spectrometry. Liquid chromatography with pulsed amperometric detection is used to determine sugar alcohols, carbohydrates and polysaccharides of both the starch and polyfructan types. The various steps of sample preparation and the further development of analytical methods are also part of our tasks.

ICP atomic emission spectrometer
We use optical emission spectrometry for the analysis of trace elements in plant, soil and water samples from our experiments and field sites. For long-term studies investigating the effects of land use, species composition, soil cultivation and fertilisation on ecosystems in connection with climate change, analyses of the elemental balance are fundamental.
Ion chromatography system with amperometric detector
Ion chromatography (IC) comprises analytical procedures for the chromatographic separation and detection of individual ions based on their charge. It is usually carried out on a separation column filled with solid ion-exchanging material. Complex mixtures of anions or cations are separated and quantified in a short time, for which different detection systems are available. While higher concentrated samples may have to be diluted before injection, optimised analytical methods allow the reliable detection of certain ions down to the ppb range, i.e. [µg/L]. While ion chromatographic measurement was initially limited to smaller anions and cations, larger organic anions, such as carbohydrates, can now also be reliably and sensitively detected.
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