Welcome to the Stable Isotope Facility

The Stable Isotope Facility (SIF) in the Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, Faculty of Forestry, is located in the Forest Sciences Centre on the University of British Columbia Vancouver campus. The SIF provides analytical services to any department on campus, and welcomes sample submissions from other academic institutions, government and industry.

The SIF is equipped with an elemental analyzer (EA) and a gas chromatograph (GC), both of which are coupled via continuous flow to an isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS) for carbon and nitrogen analysis. We are able to perform the following routine analyses:

  • Total %C and %N elemental concentrations and 13C and 15N stable isotopes in solid material such as soils, plant matter, animal matter, extracts, extracts on filters, sediments and powdered rock, pharmaceuticals, and synthetic materials via EA and EA-IRMS
  • Compound-specific 13C isotope determination from liquid samples such as dissolved phospholipid fatty acids (PLFA) and neutral lipid fatty acids (NLFA) via GC-C-IRMS

13CO2 gas (e.g., from soil respiration) via GC-IRMS is not a routine analysis but can be performed by special request.

Most isotopic samples submitted are 1000‰ or less but we are able to analyse higher enrichment samples by special arrangement.

The SIF also houses a trace gas chromatograph (Trace GC) for greenhouse gas analysis (no stable isotopes, though). We are able to perform the following analyses:

  • Stand-alone CO2 (and/or CH4) analysis
  • Stand-alone N2O analysis
  • Combined CO2, CH4 and N2O analyses

Researchers interested in using the Facility are encouraged to contact the SIF Manager prior to sample submission to discuss sample preparation, method development and/or analytical protocols.

Stable Isotope Facility