Stable isotope analysis

Stable isotopes are increasingly being used as tracers for dietary habits (mostly carbon; 13C/12C), trophic positions (nitrogen; 15N/14N) and migratory movements (hydrogen and oxygen; 2H/1H and 18O/16O) of animals. The stable isotope laboratory at the IZW is equipped with state-of-the-art isotope ratio mass spectrometers (Delta V Advantage, Thermo) connected to a peripheral elemental analyser (Hekatech-Elemental analyser, Flash EA from Thermo and TC-EA from Thermo) to measure these elements in any organic tissue (C, N, H and O), gas (C, H and O) and liquid (H and O). Depending on whether or not the matrix has natural enrichments or whether it is artificially enriched, we provide measurements in the delta-notation (in relation to an international standard) or in atom percent. Turnaround times are quite fast for standard material such as plant or animal tissues (usually less than 1 month).

Depending on the enrichment of CNH in your sample, we need a sample volume of 0.4 to 1.5 mg. You may either send us the raw material or you may prepare your samples for stable isotope analyses using our facilities.

Services offered as part of scientific collaborations

 Analysis of stable isotopes based on stable isotope ratio mass spectrometers (IRMS) and elemental analyzers

  • Analysis of stable carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen isotope ratios (δ15N)
  • Analysis of stable isotope ratios in non-exchangeable hydrogen (δ2H) in keratin (bird feathers, mammal fur) and chitin (insects) and further organic matrices (e.g. blood, muscle).

 Analysis of stable carbon isotope ratios in CO2 using laser spectroscopes

Scientific advice for using the 13C-labeled Na-bicarbonate method

We only offer analysis for service as part of scientific collaborations, not for commercial purposes.

Download more information about this service and our quality management.


PD Dr Christian Voigt
Phone: +49(0)30 5168517