Mass Spectrometry
Online ISSN : 2186-5116
Print ISSN : 2187-137X
ISSN-L : 2186-5116
Original Article
Construction of a Newly Designed Small-Size Mass Spectrometer for Helium Isotope Analysis: Toward the Continuous Monitoring Of 3He/4He Ratios In Natural Fluids
Ken-ichi BajoHirochika SuminoMichisato ToyodaRyuji OkazakiTakahito OsawaMorio IshiharaItsuo KatakuseKenji NotsuGeorge IgarashiKeisuke Nagao
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2012 Volume 1 Issue 2 Pages A0009


The construction of a small-size, magnetic sector, single focusing mass spectrometer (He-MS) for the continuous, on-site monitoring of He isotope ratios (3He/4He) is described. The instrument is capable of measuring 4He/20Ne ratios dissolved in several different types of natural fluids of geochemical interest, such as groundwater and gas from hot springs, volcanoes and gas well fields. The ion optics of He-MS was designed using an ion trajectory simulation program “TRIO,” which permits the simultaneous measurement of 3He and 4He with a double collector system under a mass resolution power (MM) of >500. The presently attained specifications of the He-MS are; (1) a mass resolving power of ca. 490, sufficient to separate 3He+ from interfering ions, HD+ and H3+, (2) ultra-high vacuum conditions down to 3×10−8 Pa, and (3) a sufficiently high sensitivity to permit amounts of 3He to be detected at levels as small as 10−13 cm3STP (3×106 atoms). Long term stability for 3He/4He analysis was examined by measuring the 3He/4He standard gas (HESJ) and atmospheric He, resulting in ∼3% reproducibility and ≤5% experimental error for various amounts of atmospheric He from 0.3 to 2.3×10−6 cm3STP introduced into the instrument. A dynamic range of measurable 3He/4He ratios with He-MS is greater than 103 which was determined by measuring various types of natural fluid samples from continental gas (with a low 3He/4He ratio down to 2×10−8) to volcanic gas (with a high 3He/4He ratio up to 3×10−5). The accuracy and precision of 3He/4He and 4He/20Ne ratios were evaluated by comparing the values with those measured using well established noble gas mass spectrometers (modified VG5400/MS-III and -IV) in our laboratory, and were found to be in good agreement within analytical errors. Usefulness of the selective extraction of He from water/gas using a high permeability of He through a silica glass wall at high temperature (700°C) is demonstrated.

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© 2012 The Mass Spectrometry Society of Japan
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