In early June we made the short trip from Picarro’s Headquarters in Silicon Valley to Sacramento and Davis for Goldschmidt 2014 and ASITA. Although pretty different conferences, we had a great time at both and had some excellent conversations with globally-recognized isotope geochemists, newcomers to the field, avid Picarro users and those just getting into the game.
Marking the first time Picarro has attended Goldschmidt as an Exhibitor, we demonstrated two Picarro CRDS analyzers at our booth with a focus on our isotope capabilities. We had a Picarro G2201-i for simultaneous measurement of δ13C in both CO2 and CH4. The system was configured with a 16-port Distribution Manifold and a Small Sample Isotope Module for the delivery of small, discrete gas samples. During the conference itself we were sampling ambient room air, so could see the Exhibit hall breathe. We also had a Picarro L2130-i, configured with an Autosampler and High Precision Vaporizer, for high precision measurements of δ18O and δD in water. A number of great discussions occurred in front of the analyzers, including new applications, tips and tricks for current users, and an introduction to our technology for those just learning about Picarro instrumentation.
For me, the conference was especially rewarding as it allowed me to re-connect with former colleagues and collaborators from my PhD and postdoc during which I conducted research on carbonate clumped isotope geochemistry and oxygen isotopes in biogenic phosphate. In particular, I enjoyed the session on clumped, or multiply-substituted, methane (e.g., 13CDH3). Although mostly limited to isotope ratio mass spectrometry at this stage, the ability to determine generation temperature of natural gas by measuring isotopes is certainly exciting.
No week would be complete without a bit of experimentation, so we decided to see how booth traffic would improve with the additional draw of World Cup football. The 5-1 victory by The Netherlands over Spain certainly drew in a crowd and we hope that going forward Picarro will not only be known as a world-class producer of high precision trace gas and isotope instruments, but also a fun group of people!
After five days in Sacramento, it was time to rent a Uhaul van and transport our analyzers down the road to UC-Davis for ASITA. To demonstrate how easy Picarro instrumentation can be to move around and set up, I’ll point out that our booth at ASITA was set up by one person (me!) in about 2 hours. The only thing I needed help with was the banner backdrops and you don’t need to worry about that in a lab!
ASITA is a small gathering of mostly stable isotope lab managers so it is a unique group of people, and it’s the people who are essential to so many isotope measurements. They tend to know their equipment inside out so it’s a great opportunity for us to share tips and tricks, details about the underlying operation of our analyzers, and get useful feedback from our “super”-users.
My colleague, Melissa Palmer, gave a great talk about some development work we've been doing to configure our Small Sample Isotope Module to measure delta values and concentrations accurately -- watch for more here soon. In addition, there was a group discussion on laser instrumentation where we discussed challenges such as sample-to-sample isotopic memory and spectral interference. Finally, we had a Picarro User’s Meeting where Danthu Vu, from our technical support team, gave an overview of the control loops essential to Picarro spectrometers, and I talked about calibration strategies.
All in all it was a great two weeks, and we hope to see you all next year!