Hydrogen is not the same as hydrogen. It is known that elements can have different atomic configurations: they are called isotopes. Naturally occurring isotopes of hydrogen are, for example, deuterium and tritium. These isotopes usually have different chemical reaction capabilities and physical properties: deuterium, for example, is stable; tritium, however, is unstable and radioactive. An accurate determination of such isotopes is therefore crucial – in particular in nuclear medicine, biology and geology.
To this end, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM), in a research collaboration with the Leibniz Institute for Analytical Sciences (ISAS) and the Graduate School of Analytical Sciences Adlershof (SALSA), is working on a new method to determine the isotope composition of chemical elements. In order to determine the individual isotopes, a molecule is formed in the new method, whose absorption spectrum is measured in high resolution (HR-CS-MAS). Compared to traditional mass spectrometry, this new method is less time-consuming, easier to use and much less expensive.
Through his research, Carlos Abad Andrade from the Inorganic Reference Materials Division has made a significant contribution to determining isotope ratios and presented his method at the largest analytical chemistry conference in North America, "The Great SCIentific eXchange": more than 1000 leading scientists and young scientists from North America and overseas met in Reno (Nevada, USA) in early October. The evaluation committee awarded a poster prize to Carlos Abad Andrade’s research results due to the innovative approach which is largely unknown in the USA. The interdisciplinary nature generated not least by the participating institutions’ networking and the effective and good cooperation, provided positive impetus for the progress of research.