Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

An Atom Trap for Water Dating

28.02.2017

Heidelberg physicists develop new dating method for the earth and environmental sciences

A Heidelberg physics project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) will focus on a new type of dating method for use in the earth and environmental sciences. The research team will deploy a special radioactive isotope of the noble gas argon (Ar) for the purpose of water dating.


Atom trap wherein 39Ar atoms are captured and detected

Florian Freundt, Institute of Environmental Physics, Heidelberg University

This isotope is useful for determining age in the range of 50 to 1,000 years. Prof. Dr Markus Oberthaler of the Kirchhoff Institute for Physics and Prof. Dr Werner Aeschbach of the Institute of Environmental Physics of Heidelberg University will direct the three-year project. The DFG has approved funding in the amount of approximately one million euros. Research is dated to begin in March 2017.

The project, “ArTTA-10mL: An instrument for 39Ar-dating of small ice and water samples”, was selected for funding from the DFG's first-time call for bids for "New Instrumentation for Research." The work is a continuation of a long-standing collaboration between the working groups of Prof. Oberthaler and Prof. Aeschbach, who have already successfully used the dating method based on the noble gas radioisotope 39Ar and developed a prototype measurement device. The Heidelberg researchers intend to design the new, one-of-a-kind instrument for routine use on small samples and then make it available to other researchers.

Dating in the earth and environmental sciences is largely based on radioactive isotopes whose gradual decay provides time information. Because it is the only isotope that covers the important age range of 50 to 1,000 years, the noble gas radioisotope 39Ar is highly interesting for dating in ground water research, oceanography and glacier research.

The fact that it is extremely rare makes the work very challenging. Measurements in the 1960s showed only a single 39Ar atom in one quadrillion argon atoms in air. Dating ground or ocean water by detecting the radioactive decay of 39Ar requires samples of at least one ton water.

The Heidelberg measurement process is based on the fundamentally new method of Atom Trap Trace Analysis (ATTA), wherein 39Ar atoms are captured and detected in an atom trap. This technology for "manipulating" atoms was perfected in Heidelberg in recent years. It makes it possible to reduce the required sample size by a factor of 100 to 1,000, according to Prof. Oberthaler. In a preceding project, the researchers were able to demonstrate that measuring 39Ar is possible in principle using this procedure.

Now, using ocean water and Alpine ice, they have provided evidence that the 39Ar ATTA measurement can also be realised using small samples of only 25 litres of water or an argon volume of ten millilitres or less. "That opens up completely new application horizons. The need for such analyses is great, especially in the field of tracer oceanography," explains Prof. Aeschbach.

Markus Oberthaler conducts research at the Kirchhoff Institute for Physics, Werner Aeschbach at the Institute of Environmental Physics. Prof. Aeschbach is also Director of the Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE).

Contact:
Prof. Dr Markus Oberthaler, Kirchhoff-Institute for Physics
Phone +49 6221 54-5170, markus.oberthaler@kip.uni-heidelberg.de

Prof. Dr Werner Aeschbach, Institute of Environmental Physics
Phone +49 6221 54-6331, aeschbach@iup.uni-heidelberg.de

Communications and Marketing
Press Office, phone +49 6221 54-2311
presse@rektorat.uni-heidelberg.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.kip.uni-heidelberg.de/matterwaveoptics/research/atta
http://www.iup.uni-heidelberg.de/institut/forschung/groups/aquasys/gp/projects/p...

Marietta Fuhrmann-Koch | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Global study of world's beaches shows threat to protected areas
19.07.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht NSF-supported researchers to present new results on hurricanes and other extreme events
19.07.2018 | National Science Foundation

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>