Nanoscale Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (NanoSIMS)

Facility/equipment: Facility

  • LocationShow on map

    Access via Henry Royce Institute

    United Kingdom



The Manchester University Cameca NanoSIMS 50L is a high resolution secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) instrument that can be used to image and measure the isotopic and elemental distribution of elements in all types of samples, routinely achieving 100nm spatial resolution. It is capable of detecting isotopes of almost every element in the periodic table from hydrogen to uranium at ppm or ppb levels depending upon the element.

Typical applications include trace or light element mapping and spatially resolved isotopic ratio measurements. It can be an extremely powerful method for understanding the dynamics of processes by stable isotope labelling in materials across all scientific disciplines including biological samples. It is also one of the few techniques available that can spatially resolve hydrogen and deuterium distributions.

Our machine was delivered in September 2014 and is currently being used on a wide range of projects in the analysis of metallic, polymeric, biological, geological and cosmological materials. In July 2018 it was upgraded with the RF plasma oxygen source with funding from The Henry Royce Institute.

Key Specifications:
Spatial resolution: 50 nm with Cs+ beam (for electronegative elements), 50 nm with O- beam (for electropositive elements).

Detection limits: ppm to ppb, depending upon element

Mass range: Hydrogen to uranium

Mass Resolution: M/ΔM up to 10,000

Detectors: 6 movable detectors and 1 fixed detector allowing for parallel acquisition of 7 masses

Analysis Chamber vacuum: ~5e-10 mbar (samples must be high vacuum compatible and flat)
Overview image of NanoSIMS Instrument
The NanoSIMS being operated by Dr Kexue Li and Dr Katie Moore
Close up photograph of a part of the NanoSIMS


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