Analytical Facility

The Faculty of Agriculture and Environment has a suite of analytical instruments that are available to students and researchers for isotopic, elemental and organic compound analysis. The instruments are located at the Centre for Carbon, Water and Food, part of the Camden Campus of the University of Sydney.

The instruments include:

  • Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer (Thermo Fisher Scientific)

  • Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometer (Agilent)

  • Proton Reaction Transfer Mass Spectrometer (Ionicon)

  • Prices
  • Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer (Thermo Fisher Scientific)


    We have a Thermo Scientific Delta V isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS) with several peripherals to analyse solid, liquid and gaseous samples. The peripherals coupled to the IRMS are a Conflo IV, a Flash HT high temperature conversion reactor for solid and liquid samples and a Gasbench II for gaseous samples. We routinely analyse solids for δ13C, δ15N, %C and %N by combustion as well as δ2H and δ18O analysis of both solids and water by pyrolysis and δ13C and δ18O of CO2 in gaseous mixtures (mainly air). Detailed methods for publication can be downloaded here soon (link).

    Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometer (Agilent)


    We operate an Agilent 7890C Gas Chromatograph (GC) coupled to two detectors: an Agilent 5890 Mass Selective Detector (MSD) and a flame ionisation detector (FID). The GC is also fitted with a Deans switch and two-way splitter.
    The Deans switch allows switching of eluent from a primary column onto one of two secondary columns. This has the advantage of increasing the range of compounds detected from a single sample. It can also provide greater resolution of a section of a chromatographic run by switching only that section onto a second column. The MSD and the FID serve as detectors for eluent from both columns.


    With the two-way splitter compounds ordinarily detected using the FID (due to its sensitivity to some compounds) can be confirmed by simultaneous delivery to the MSD.
    The GC-MS is fitted with two inlets for both liquid and gas injections. A liquid autosampler handles up to 150 2 mL vials in a single batch.
    Gas samples are analysed from air sampling tubes using an automated thermal desorption system. The system from Markes (UK) consists of the Series 2 Ultra autosampling unit and the Series 2 Unity thermal desorption and concentration system.
    The Ultra 2 can desorb up to 100 tubes. Tubes are sealed with Markes’ DifflokTM tube caps for sampling and desorption, and brass compression fittings for storage. The Ultra 2 is also configured with the internal standard delivery option, so tubes can be spiked with an internal standard before deployment into the field.
    Excess eluent released during tube desorption (and vented via a split system) can be recaptured and reanalysed for repeat analysis of the analytes on a single tube.
    Tubes can be packed with adsorbent resins specific to the compounds of interest.
    Please contact us to discuss your project and analysis requirements. Prices for analysis will follow a scaling similar to that applied for the analysis of samples by IRMS (see above), with prices for local students beginning at around $90 per day for operation of the GC-MS alone. This will vary according to your requirements so contact us for more details.

    Proton Reaction Transfer Mass Spectrometer (Ionicon)


    PTR-MS has well and truly established itself at the method of choice for the monitoring of volatile organic compound fluxes and chemistry over the last 15 -20 years.
    We operate a high sensitivity PTR-MS with a single quadrupole mass analyser. This is primarily a research tool and if you think it may be of use to you in your experiments, please call or drop us a line to discuss your requirements.


    A detailed list of prices is available on the top right of this page (in Australian dollars and inclusive of GST). Prices are subject to change (small batch sizes may incur an additional fee) and are negotiable depending on our involvement. Members of the University of Sydney, as well as participants of the original grant that was used to buy the equipment, have access to a reduced price. Please ask for student prices (University of Sydney only). Please note that oxygen and hydrogen analysis fees are higher, as the analysis is more difficult, and samples need to be run in duplicate. Carbon and nitrogen samples are analysed singly, with a few random repeats (10 repeats per 80 samples). Each analysis will be done using two standards that bracket the isotopic signatures (except for samples containing an isotopic label) and CN content of your samples. Precision for these standards will be provided.



    If you would like to use this facility, discuss your project or for any queries relating to the analysis of your samples, please contact claudia.keitel[at]
    You are welcome to visit our lab and use the drying, grinding and weighing equipment.

    Please use the following address for shipment of samples:

    Name of contact person
    Plant Breeding Institute
    University of Sydney
    107 Cobbitty Road
    Cobbitty NSW 2570