The Potsdam Ion Microprobe User Facility

The Helmholtz Zentrum Potsdam operates a fully equipped, large geometry SIMS instrument, which is supported by a comprehensive spectrum of peripheral instrumentation.  The SIMS laboratory is an open user facility intended to support the needs of the global geochemical community.  Scientists from Europe and beyond are invited to contact us to discuss possibilities for collaboration.  We strive to provide top-quality analytical data in an as rapid and uncomplicated means as possible.

SIMS Basics

Backscattered electron image of a zircon crystal with a ~20µm diameter sputter crater produced during a 90 minute SIMS analysis.

Ion microprobes, also known as secondary ion mass spectrometers (SIMS), use a finely focused ion beam to probe a selected sample domain.  A small percentage of the material sputtered from the polished surface of the sample is ionized, and these ions are accelerated into a mass spectrometer where they are separated according to their mass-over-charge ratio.  An important characteristic of SIMS is its high sensitivity compared to other microbeam sampling techniques: the ability to count individual ions results in detection limits in the parts-per-billion range for many elements.  Also the fact that ions derived from the sample are separated by their mass-over-charge ratio allows isotopic analyses to be performed on test portion masses that can be as small as 200 picograms.

SIMS Laboratory News

Update: On 11 December 2013 the Potsdam 1280-HR ion probe began collecting its first publication-quality data.  We are schedlued to complete three projects during the first six weeks of operations.

Update: On 20 August 2013 the new Potsdam SIMS facility formally opened.  Prof. Dr. Sabine Kunst, Minister for Science, Research and Culture of the State of Brandenburg alongside Prof. Dr. Reinhard Hüttl, Scientific Director of the Helmholtz Zentrum Potsdam, officiated at the ceremony.

Opening of the new SIMS Lab on 20 August 2013

Update: On 08 March 2013 the Cameca 1280-HR instrument was delivered to Potsdam.  Installation is planned to begin during the first half of April.  Short film from Potsdam-TV.

Update: On 15 January 2013 the GFZ SIMS Laboratory announced that it will be hosting the Biennial Geo-SIMS workshop BGSW7, which will be held on 21 and 22 August 2013.

Update: On 09 May 2012 the Cameca ims 6f instrument was transported to its new home at the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden Rossendorf, thus marking the end of a highly productive 13 years in Potsdam where it produced data for over 100 scientific projects.  Once installed at our sister facility in Dresden, the 6f will be coupled to an accelerator mass spectrometer at the core of the "Super-SIMS" initiative of the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology.

Update: On 13 September 2011 the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam signed a purchase contract for the acquisition of a Cameca 1280-HR instrument.  The acquisition of this new technology will open many new research opportunities for our world-wide user community.  The new instrument is scheduled for delivery in Potsdam in December 2012 and acceptance should be approximately 3 months later.  Routine operation of the new facility, which will emphasize high-precision isotope ratio determinations, will aimed for late 2013.  The currently available Cameca ims 6f instrument, which has been in operation since 1998, will be decommissioned by the GFZ in March 2012.

Phone and Post Info

Our Area Code: ++49-331
1280-HR Lab:    288-28915
Operator Room: 288-28916
Prep Room:       288-28917
FAX:                 288-1474

Our Postal Address:
SIMS Laboratory
Section 4.2
Helmholtz Zentrum Potsdam
Telegrafenberg
14473 Potsdam
Germany

Contact for Inquiries

Dr. Michael Wiedenbeck
Head of SIMS Group
Tel: ++49-331-288-1484