The Centre for Trace Analysis is a joint infrastructure of Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and the Institute for Polar Sciences of the Italian National Research Council (ISP-CNR). CeTra is a center of international excellence for research, advanced training and services operating with universities, research institutions and companies interested in trace/ultra-trace analysis and chemical imaging in the fields of life science, environment, advanced materials and cultural heritage.
The facility makes available state-of-the art instrumentation and technical expertise for advanced studies of chemical identification and quantitative determination at extremely low levels and/or in complex matrices, and spatial distribution or structural analyses at the micro-to-nano scale.
- Clean Laboratories
- Inductively coupled plasma - sector field mass spectrometer (ICP-SFMS)
- Inductively coupled plasma - quadrupole mass spectrometer (ICP-QMS)
- Inductively coupled plasma - optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES)
- Mercury analyzers
- Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) microscope
- High performance ion chromatograph - mass spectrometer (HPIC-MS)
- High performance liquid chromatograph - tandem mass spectrometer (HPLC-MS/MS)
- Ultra performance liquid chromatograph - high resolution mass spectrometer (UPLC-HRMS)
- Gas chromatograph - tandem mass spectrometer (GC-MS/MS)
The facility includes two Clean Laboratories dedicated to the ultra-clean manipulation/preparation of samples for inorganic and organic analysis, respectively.
The inorganic clean laboratory is entirely made of plastic-coated materials designed for the low release of airborne particles, while the organic clean laboratory is entirely made of steel materials and components designed to minimize the release of organic substances and maximize the effectiveness of decontamination procedures.
The inorganic clean laboratory consists of 4 rooms ISO 6 equipped with laminar flow benches (one is additionally equipped with an extractor hood and glove box for the preparation of atmospheric aerosols filters), 1 room ISO 5 equipped with laminar flow bench and 1 room ISO 4.
The organic clean laboratory consists of 1 room ISO 7 for intermediate sample preparation, 2 rooms ISO 6 equipped with laminar flow benches, 1 room ISO 5 equipped with laminar flow bench and 1 room ISO 4.
All the clean rooms are at overpressure increasing as function of their class, equipped with ceiling installed HEPA filters for continuous filtering of the internal air and dedicated internal production systems of Milli-Q water (Elga LabWater).
Applications: contamination-free manipulation and processing of samples for trace and ultra-trace level analysis of inorganic or organic species.
Inductively coupled plasma - sector field mass spectrometer (ICP-SFMS)
The high-resolution mass spectrometer Element XR (Thermo Scientific) allows performing interference-free high-precision quantitative determination of elements and isotopic/elemental ratios in liquid samples down to the ultra-trace level.
Thanks to a combination of high-resolution mass filter and counting, analog and Faraday detection modes, the linear dynamic range of the detector extends from sub fg/g (ppq) to over 12 orders of magnitude in solution mode.
The instrument is equipped with a SC-4 autosampler (ESI) for continuous data acquisition and can be equipped with ARIS (ESI) or ARIDUS (Cetac) desolvating nebulizer systems for further reduction of solvent-based interferences such as oxides and hydrides.
Applications: quantitative multi-elemental and isotopic analysis at trace and ultra-trace levels in environmental samples, geological analysis, material sciences, conservation sciences, forensics, clinical samples, food and biological materials.
Inductively coupled plasma - quadrupole mass spectrometer (ICP-QMS)
The instrument iCAP-RQ (Thermo Scientific) is dedicated to the quantitative determination of trace elements and elemental ratios in liquid samples. The system is equipped with a Qcell technology assembly which can be run using He as collision gas and/or H2 as reaction gas to achieve reduction of spectral interferences. Additional accessories include an autosampler ASX-560 (Cetac) for high-throughput analysis, sample introduction kit for the analysis of HF mineralized samples and cone inserts for high sensitivity/robust/high matrix analysis. The instrument allows performing highly reproducible quantitative multi-elemental determinations over 9 order of magnitude in concentration in a variety of sample matrices across the entire mass range.
Applications: quantitative multi-elemental analysis from major to low-trace levels in environmental samples, geological analysis, material sciences, conservation sciences, forensics, clinical samples, food and biological materials.
Inductively coupled plasma - optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES)
The instrument iCAP 7400 (Thermo Scientific) is dedicated to the quantitative determination of major-to-trace elements and elemental ratios in liquid or (appropriately) dissolved samples. The system is equipped with high-efficiency light transmission system, radial or duo (radial + axial) plasma view configurations to suit a wide variety of sample types and elements of interest and a simultaneous wavelength acquisition system. Elemental concentrations can be determined with detection limits in the ppb or sub-ppb level with high instrumental precision and long-term signal stability even in complex matrices or at consistently high levels with minimized memory effects. Additional accessories include an autosampler ASX-560 (Cetac) for high-throughput analysis.
Applications: quantitative multi-elemental analysis from major to trace levels in environmental samples, geological analysis, material sciences, conservation sciences, forensics, clinical samples, food and biological materials.
Two different mercury analyzers are available at the Centre.
The Mercur DUO plus (Analytik Jena) is an atomic absorption (AAS) and atomic fluorescence (AFS) spectrometer specifically designed and dedicated to the analysis of mercury in compliance with the standards EPA, EN and ISO. An integrated module with two gold collectors allows simple or cascade enrichment of mercury (according to EPA method 1631) to achieve determination limits from the low ppt to the ppq range with high method robustness, depending on the type of sample and configuration. Additional accessories include an autosampler AS-FD for high-throughput analysis.
The Tekran 2600 system provides determination of total mercury at ultra-trace levels by cold vapor atomic fluorescence spectrometry (CVAFS) based on a fully automated implementation of EPA Method 1631. The instrument can run in multiple method configurations such as: dual stage gold preconcentration (EPA Method 1631), direct measurement without preconcentration (EPA Method 245.7) and air sample analysis on gold traps (EPA Compendium Method IO-5). Additional accessories include a peristaltic pump Tekran 2610 and an autosampler Tekran 2620.
Applications: determination of mercury in drinking and natural waters, wastewater, soil and sediments, rocks, ashes, biological fluids, food, beverages, quality control of materials.
Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) microscope
The instrument is an infrared microscope Nicolet iN10 (Thermo Scientific) integrating a high-resolution CCD optical camera and a FT-IR spectrometer and is designed to perform microanalysis with lateral resolution down to a 50-microns at room temperature or a few microns with liquid nitrogen cooling. The instrument is equipped with motorized stage, MicroTip ATR device for direct contact sampling and analysis of fine structures (down to 3 microns), motorized visible polarizer for visual inspection, MTC-A detector with spectral range 7800–650 cm-1 and the dedicated software package OMNIC Picta for spectral identification of pure compounds and mixtures. Acquisition can be performed in transmission, reflection, or ATR modes. Particles analysis can also be performed to extract species-specific distributions of morphological parameters (size, shape).
Applications: microspectroscopy, material identification, packaging and laminate, coating, active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) mixture distribution mapping, identification of contaminants, microplastics identification and characterization.
High performance ion chromatograph - mass spectrometer (HPIC-MS)
The instrumentation consists of a high performance ion chromatograph ICS-5000 Standard Bore and Microbore System (Dionex, Thermo Scientific) coupled to a single quadrupole mass spectrometer MSQ Plus (Thermo Scientific) and is dedicated to the quantitative determination of and water-soluble and ionic organic/inorganic compounds in liquid media. The chromatograph can operate up to 5000 psi to achieve high performance separation and is equipped with an eluent generator ICS 5000EG (Dionex, Thermo Scientific) configured with carbonate or hydroxide eluents for anions and metanesulfonic acid (MSA) for cations determination, suppressors ASRS 500 or CCES 300 (Thermo Scientific) to remove the salts form mobile phase before entering the MS source, and CD conductivity detector. The mass spectrometer is equipped with an electrospray source (ESI).
Applications: determination of inorganic ions and water-soluble and ionic organic compounds (e.g. sugars, organic acids) in water, sediment, soil, atmospheric aerosol, food and beverages, composite materials.
High performance liquid chromatograph - tandem mass spectrometer (HPLC-MS/MS)
The instrumentation consists of a 1100 series HPLC system (Agilent Technologies) coupled to an API 4000 triple quadrupole mass spectrometer (Applied Biosystems/MDS SCIEX) and is dedicated to the identification and quantitative determination of low abundance organic compounds in liquid media. The HPLC is equipped with a vacuum degasser, a binary HPLC pump system, an autosampler and a thermostatted column compartment. The mass spectrometer is equipped with a Turbo V source for flexible exchange between atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) source and Turbolon spray probe, capable of achieving maximized ionization efficiency and minimized chemical noise and instrumental drift.
Applications: identification and quantitative determination of low abundance organic compounds in clinical samples (e.g. pesticides/drug residues), forensic toxicology, environmental matrices, food and beverages, composite materials.
Ultra performance liquid chromatograph - high resolution mass spectrometer (UPLC-HRMS)
The instrument consists of an ultra-high performance liquid chromatograph (UPLC) Ultimate 3000 (Thermo Scientific) equipped with a nano pump and autosampler for high throughput, coupled to an LTQ Orbitrap XL mass spectrometer (Thermo Scientific). The ionization is obtained using a Nanospray Flex ion source (Thermo Scientific) equipped with a Picotip silica emitter. The MS/MS acquisition is downstream to a collision induced dissociation (CID) fragmentation and provides accurate mass measurement (<10 ppm) with high mass resolution (600,000) and sensitivity (low femtomole to high attomole). This instrument can carry out quantitative proteomics and metabolomics analyses over a wide dynamic range, including low-abundance peptides, and untarget analysis of environmental and clinical samples with accurate identification of unexpected compounds.
Applications: proteomics, PTM characterization, metabolomics, untarget analysis of compounds in complex liquid media.
Gas chromatograph - tandem mass spectrometer (GC-MS/MS)
The instrument consists of a GC Trace 1310 (Thermo Scientific) equipped with user-exchangeable instant connect injector and detector modules, coupled to a TSQ 9000 triple quadrupole MS/MS detection system. The ExtractraBrite ion source is fully removable without breaking the vacuum probe interlock (VPI) to achieve fast operationality and switching from electron ionization (EI) to chemical ionization (CI). For the highest level of sensitivity the Advanced Electron Ionization (AEI) source can be configured to reach instrument detection limits into the attogram range. The instrument is suited for quantitative target and untarget analysis of volatile/semi-volatile compounds.
Applications: SPE samples, pesticides residuals, persistent organic pollutants in food and beverages, waters, clinical samples, forensic sciences.