Direct separation of boron from Na- and Ca-rich matrices by sublimation for stable isotope measurement by MC-ICP-MS

Talanta. 2010 Sep 15;82(4):1378-84. doi: 10.1016/j.talanta.2010.07.010. Epub 2010 Jul 31.


An improved technique for precise and accurate determination of boron isotopic composition in Na-rich natural waters (groundwater, seawater) and marine biogenic carbonates was developed. This study used a 'micro-sublimation' technique to separate B from natural sample matrices in place of the conventional ion-exchange extraction. By adjusting analyte to appropriate pH, quantitative recovery of boron can be achieved (>98%) and the B procedural blank is limited to <8 pg. An additional mass bias effect in MC-ICP-MS was observed which could not be improved via the standard-sample-standard bracketing or the 'pseudo internal' normalization by Li. Therefore a standard other than NBS SRM 951 was used to monitor plasma condition in order to maintain analytical accuracy. An isotope cross-calibration with results from TIMS shows that the space-charge mass bias on MC-ICP-MS can be successfully corrected using off-line mathematical manipulation. Several reference materials, including the seawater IAPSO and two groundwater standards IAEA-B-2 and IAEA-B-3, were used to validate this approach. We found that the delta(11)B of the reference coral JCp-1 was 24.22+/-0.28 per thousand, corresponding to seawater pH based on the coral delta(11)B-pH function.