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The Shibata Award 2019
The Geochemical Society of Japan Award 2019
  • Takafumi Hirata
    2020 Volume 54 Issue 3 Pages 113-151
    Published: September 25, 2020
    Released: September 25, 2020

    Continuous developments in inorganic mass spectrometry techniques, such as the combination of an ICP ion source and a magnetic sector-based mass spectrometer equipped with a multiple-collector array (MC-ICPMS), have revolutionized the precision of the isotopic ratio measurements, and the applications of the inorganic mass spectrometry in geochemistry, cosmochemistry, and biochemistry are beginning to appear over the horizon. The analytical community is actively solving problems, such as spectral interferences, correction of mass bias effect, high-yield chemical separation and purification processes, or reduction of the contamination of analytes. With the state-of-art techniques developed in the past decade, isotope ratio data of the elements are not specially for geochemical or cosmochemical studies.

    Natural variations in isotopic ratios of the heavy elements can provide new insights into the past and present of various geochemical and biochemical processes. Stable isotope tracers are now increasingly being used in studies of elemental metabolism, bioavailability or toxicity of nutrients, as well as evaluating the elemental turnover time. The metabolism of higher organisms can be transcribed as stable supply of the most essential elements through transfer, absorption, and storing processes, which form the basis of homeostasis function. Variations in the isotopic composition of the elements induced through dietary or metabolism processes have potential to become novel biochemical markers for assessing impairments in metal metabolism or nutritional status of the elements.

    We are still struggling to create new research fields in the stable isotope geochemistry through instrumental developments using the inorganic mass spectrometer, covering the isotopic analysis of nanoparticles in meteorites, high-speed 3D imaging analysis of biological tissue samples, as well as merging of metallomics with traditional -omics studies. Our goal is to realise the words by Walter Bagehot that “The great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do”.

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The Geochemical Society of Japan Award for Young Researchers 2019