Send to

Choose Destination
Anal Chem. 1985 Jun;57(7):1444-8.

Isotopic analyses based on the mass spectrum of carbon dioxide.

Author information

Department of Chemistry, Indiana University, Bloomington 47405, USA.


Measurements of carbon and oxygen isotopic abundances are commonly based on the mass spectrum of carbon dioxide, but analysis of that spectrum is not trivial because three isotope ratios (17O/16O, 18O/16O, and 13C/12C) must be determined from only two readily observable ion-current ratios (45/44 and 46/44). Here, approaches to the problem are reassessed in the light of new information regarding the distribution of oxygen isotopes in natural samples. It is shown that methods of calculation conventionally employed can lead to systematic errors in the computed abundance of 13C and that these errors may be related to incorrect assessment of the absolute abundance of 17O. Further, problems arising during the analysis of samples enriched by admixture of 18O-labeled materials are discussed, and it is shown (i) that serious inaccuracies arise in the computed abundance of 17O and 13C if methods of calculation conventionally employed in the analysis of natural materials are applied to material labeled with 18O but (ii) that computed fractional abundances of 18O are always within 0.4% of the correct result. Methods for exact calculation of two isotope ratios when the third is known are presented and discussed, and a more exact approach to the computation of all three isotope ratios in natural materials is given.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center