Will Nachlas, a postdoc in the Department of Earth Sciences at Syracuse University, received a Joseph Goldstein Scholar Award to pursue research into the development of trace element mineral standards. Will used the Goldstein Award to visit the Northeast National Ion Microprobe Facility (NENIMF) at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) to collect measurements using the Cameca IMS-1280 secondary ion mass spectrometer (SIMS). In collaboration with researchers at WHOI, Will used the SIMS to test the trace element compositions of a series of synthetic crystals grown from high pressure-temperature crystallization experiments.
SIMS is the premier technique for high spatial and mass resolution quantitative analysis. This method enables concentrations to be determined at the parts per million level from micron-sized regions of solid samples. However, quantitative measurements using SIMS rely on matrix-matched standard materials that contain the analyte of interest at multiple different concentrations. With new developments in trace element-based petrologic techniques, there is increasing demand for standard materials suitable for instrument calibration. To this end, Will has been working to synthesize crystalline material with specific, homogeneous trace-level concentrations that can be distributed to the community for use as trace element mineral standards. However, this effort began as a “side project”, and it was delayed by lack of funds needed to acquire the SIMS data. With support from the Microanalysis Society through a Goldstein Scholar Award, it became possible to acquire the data necessary to advance this research.
The Goldstein Scholar Award provides an excellent opportunity for early career scientists to pursue self-directed research and foster collaborations as an independent researcher. The ability to craft a research proposal to support individual research efforts is an empowering and motivating experience. With funding support provided by a Goldstein Award, Will was able to complete a major component of the necessary analytical work to move his work towards publication. Preliminary results of this research, including measurements obtained on the ion probe at WHOI, were recently presented in an invited presentation in session A09 – Standards, Reference Materials, and Their Applications in Quantitative Microanalysis at the 2017 Microscopy & Microanalysis meeting in St. Louis.