As manager of the stable isotope facility Dr Tamburini runs samples for other members of her group, for her own research and for external collaborators, while also maintaining the isotope ratio mass spectrometry equipment. The group purchased a vario PYRO cube® and an IsoPrime100 from Elementar to analyze both solid and liquid samples for CNS and O. Prior to this, the group analyzed its samples in the stable isotopes facility of the Geological department of the ETH or sent its samples abroad. The equipment has benefitted the group hugely, especially as the group's research relies heavily on stable isotopes and all analyses can now be performed in-house.
The group uses the equipment for a multitude of applications, including 13C, 15N and 34S in soil and plant samples. For C and N, the team analyzes both natural abundance and 15N- and 13C-enriched samples. In recent months, it has experimented with a new technique using the vario LIQUID sampler to analyze 15N and 13C in soil waters to look at the isotopic signature of rhizo-deposition. These samples have low N and C concentrations and so a relatively large amount of liquid (80 µl) is injected directly into the combustion furnace.