IsoTrace Laboratory

In 1977, Professor Ted Litherland and his group showed, that radiocarbon could be analyzed using a tandem accelerator because the abundant isobar 14N did not form negative ions and so did not interfere with 14C. From this discovery, accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) developed and was applied to the analysis of other long-lived radioisotopes, such as 10Be, 26Al, 36Cl and 129I. Ted went on to establish IsoTrace at the University of Toronto as Canada’s first dedicated AMS facility - eventually it would became the only instrument in Canada. For thirty years, IsoTrace provided radiocarbon and radioiodine analyses to researchers in Canada and abroad, by which time, the equipment needed to be replaced.

AEL AMS Laboratory

In 2008, the AMS community supported an initiative to acquire a new generation AMS system capable of managing the high volume throughput required by the Canadian research community, the range of radioisotopes in demand, and to support the advanced ionization and analysis technologies being developed at IsoTrace. However, more than just a new spectrometer was required. Envisaged was a new building with more space for new sample preparation laboratories, for associated stable isotope and geochemistry laboratories, and room to accommodate students for training and participation in sample analysis. The University of Ottawa, together with the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the Ontario Innovation Fund, supported this vision and so began the establishment of a new Canadian AMS facility, at the University of Ottawa.

Our Thanks

The foresight and leadership for the laboratory came from the Vice President of Research (now the Chief Science Advisor of Canada), Dr. Mona Nemer, and President Allan Rock. However, perhaps the most tireless champion was the Dean of Science, Dr. André E. Lalonde. André worked at all levels on and off campus for the construction of the Advanced Research Complex that hosts our AMS and geoscience laboratories together with the Photonics research labs. Sadly, André passed away in late 2012, just one year short of seeing his vision become reality.