Alphachron Features

The Alphachron™ MkII is a turnkey system for the automated extraction and measurement of radiogenic helium from mineral samples. The instrument integrates a laser-heating module with a gas-handling module and an optional quartz-halogen heating system. The system is delivered prefabricated and is ready to use for measurement after installation and minimal commissioning. After extraction of the helium by laser or quartz-haologen heating, the mineral grains are digested and analysed using standard ICP-MS techniques.

System Features

  • High vacuum system consisting of dry diaphragm fore pump, hybrid turbo pump with controller, and ion pump with controller;
  • Quadropole mass spectrometer (QMS);
  • Range of mass magnitude: 1-100 amu;
  • Detector: Faraday/passage multiplier;
  • Detection limit: < 2×10-11 mbar;
  • Sensitivity of Ar: > 5×10-4/200 A/mbar;
  • SAES getters (2 installed, 1 spare) and getter activation power supply;
  • Stainless steel high-vacuum line with automatic and manual valves;
  • Automated X-Y laser stage with machine vision;
  • 970 nm diode laser, lens system, power supply and safety shield;
  • 3 x 3.3 litre stainless steel tanks with 3He spike, an analytical 4He standard, and a 4He reference standard;
  • 25 sample capacity laser chamber with sapphire window;
  • He diffusion cell option, (maximum operating T = 600°C) and integrated automation software;
  • Dedicated computer system with a Windows computer interfaced to the Alphachron digital I/O system, quadrupole, laser controller, diffusion cell controller (option), CCD camera (or optical pyrometer) and xy controller;
  • Solenoid system and control panel for automatic valve control
  • Alphachron system software/drivers for laser automation, gas handling and measurement of radiogenic helium;
  • Installation and training;
  • Data reduction /alpha correction software routines and spreadsheets;
  • Instrument manuals;

Software Interface

A powerful visual software package based on LabView allows users to create and adjust the operational sequence of the system experiments without any previous programming knowledge. An intuitive interface is included to help users manage experiments using simple textual files. These 'scripts' are able to control tightly all aspects of the system's automated operation. Users can define separate scripts for each of the samples present on the sample disk, allowing multiple tests on varying samples during one automated run, without the need for user intervention, or loading/reloading of samples between tests.