Analytical Facilities

Most of the tools we need to analyse the geochemistry of our experiments after completion are housed at Rice University.

If you are interested in using these facilities, please contact the name below the particular instrument.

Electron Probe MicroAnalyzer (EPMA)

Major element analysis and textural imaging

Rice University Electron Microprobe Laboratory is equipped with the state-of-the-art JEOL JXA 8530F Hyperprobe, a field emission Electron Probe MicroAnalyzer (EPMA).

Electron microprobe analysis provides precise quantitative chemical analysis of elements in very small volumes (<1 to 10 μm3 or more) of solid inorganic specimens.

Electron microprobe for analyzing major elements at Rice University

For use of the EPMA, please click here or contact:

Dr. Gelu (Gabi) Costin
EPMA Lab Manager
Department of Earth Science
Rice University
6100 Main Street, Keith-Wiess Geological Laboratory, MS-126
Houston, TX, 77005

e-mail:         Phone:  Office: 713 348 2054


The capabilities include:

  • Full quantitative analysis. All detectable elements (from Be to U) are quantified on a spot of <100 nm to 1μm diameter or larger. Detection limits range 30-100 ppm, depending on the element and settings. High analytical resolution at low accelerating voltage (2-10 kV), where micron scale particles can be analyzed.
  • Rapid qualitative analysis, in EDS or WDS mode and phase identification
  • Line analyses (rapid compositional profiles)
  • High resolution chemical mapping of specimens on scales from <100 nm  to ca 8 cm, quantitative element maps, phase map analysis
  • Imaging specimens at micro and nano-scale scale using backscattered electron (BSE) and secondary electron (SE) signal

The EPMA facility is open to users from all departments of Rice University, as well as to external academic visitors, non-profit organizations, government agencies and local and national businesses.

    Other analytical equpment

    For analysis of the experimental run products, we take advantage of the laser ablation ICP-MS facilities supervised by Cin-Ty Lee (See below). The LA-ICP-MS facility features a New-Wave 213 nm laser coupled to a ThermoFinnigan Element 2 magnetic sector ICP-MS.

    The other analytical facility in the Earth Science department that is of use to us is a ThermoNicolet FTIR microscope (See below).

    In addition, we rely heavily on a range of analytical instruments in the Shared Equipment Authority (SEA) of Rice University. Instruments at SEA include several SEMs, TEMs, Raman spectroscope, X-ray diffraction systems, sputter coater. We have expertise in our team in using the following SEA instruments –

    • CRC-150 Sputter Coater
    • Denton Desk-V Sputter System
    • FEI Quanta 400 Field Emission Gun-SEM
    • Rigaku D/Max (West) Ultima II Powder X-ray diffraction system
    • Renishaw inVia Raman Microscope

    Fourier Transform Infrared Microscope (FT-IR)

    We have a Thermo Nicolet FT-IR microscope, capable of transmitted and reflected absorbance down to spatial resolutions of 10 microns. We primarily use this instrument to measure OH and CO bonds in various silicate minerals.  This instrument was acquired with funds from the Packard Foundation.

    In house or collaborative rates: $10 per hour

    Contact Professor Cin-Ty Lee to use this instrument.


    Laser-Ablation ICP-MS

    To determine volatile contents dissolved in glasses, we use the FTIR at Rice. 

    It is a 213 nm laser ablation system (New-Wave) coupled to our high resolution magnetic sector ICP-MS, which was funded by the National Science Foundation.  The laser allows for in situ analysis of geologic materials. We regularly measure major element oxides and trace elements. We are also capable of measuring S and Ge in various minerals and materials. (glasses, pressed pellets, soils, carbonates, agates, silicate minerals, oxides, sulfides).  Although most of the materials studied are geologic, we have on occasion measured petroleum products for S and trace metal content.  We are also set up for in situ U/Pb dating of zircons, apatite, titanite, rutile and various authigenic minerals.

    In house or collaborative rates: $90/hour; Industrial rates: $150/hour

    Contact Professor Cin-Ty Lee to use this instrument.