This award will fund the acquisition of a Cameca ims7f-geo, a state-of-the-art secondary ion mass spectrometer (SIMS) instrument, and partial salary support for an instrument technician at Washington University in St. Louis. The new instrument will provide a unique research environment for comprehensive elemental and isotopic studies across a range of spatial scales and from diverse scientific fields. This, in turn, will allow us to provide high-level research and research-training capabilities to a broad range of local and external users. At the same time, this new instrument will catalyze new research directions in the SIMS group at Washington University in the areas of modern (micro-)biological systems and sedimentary processes, the operation and temporal evolution of global biogeochemical cycling, mineral transformations and trace element distributions crucial for understanding a variety of processes spanning the geological, environmental, biological, and space sciences.
The new SIMS instrument will provide ample learning opportunities about the fundamentals of mass spectrometry, ion optics, and microanalysis, as well as hands-on research experience for students and post-docs at different levels, allowing us to train the next generation of SIMS users. The new instrument and full-time technician will enable users to pursue a diverse range of research applications. We are committed to providing subsidized access (and the necessary technical know-how) to new local and external users for "proof-of-concept" measurements necessary for successful grant applications. This will ensure access for a wide range of instrument users. The diverse internal and external users of this new SIMS will catalyze new collaborations and research directions here at Washington University and throughout the region, supporting the scientific aims of NSF and other federal funding agencies. Finally, we will work with the manufacturer to incorporate our custom-made trace element analysis routine into their software package, which will be made available to the SIMS community at large.