Element and Heavy Isotope Analytical Laboratories

Our Facilities

The Element and Heavy Isotope Analytical Laboratories (EHIAL) comprise a suite of analytical instrumentation including:

  • Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES)
  • Quadrupole inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-QMS)
  • Multi-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MC-MS)
  • Direct mercury analysis
  • Dedicated, purpose-built, clean lab and sample preparation facilities
  • Sample delivery by solution nebulization or via microsampling using laser ablation

The EHIAL was constructed through significant investments by the University of Windsor and through Canada Foundation for Innovation/Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation awards to GLIER and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, as well as industrial partners. The EHIAL is accredited by the Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation (CALA) for mercury analysis of sediment and tissue.  We routinely collaborate with researchers from the University of Windsor and other domestic and foreign universities, as well as industrial partners.

Major Instrumentation

The major pieces of instrumentation in the EHIAL analytical laboratories include:

  • Agilent 7900 fast-scanning ICP-QMS 
  • Agilent 720 ICP-OES 
  • Thermo Neptune MC-ICP-MS with upgraded pumping system and interface 
  • PhotonMachines 193 nm short pulse width Analyte Excite excimer laser ablation system
  • PhotonMachines 266 nm femtosecond pulse width laser ablation system
  • Direct Mercury Analyzer 

Research Foci

The combination of analytical capabilities is unique in Canada and enables the EHIAL to offer ‘state of the science’ analyses as well as to develop novel protocols for laser ablation microanalysis.  Elemental and isotopic analytical method development and applications routinely include environmental, biological, geological, chemical, and materials engineering research areas using both solution- and laser ablation-based analyses.  Recent solution-based elemental and isotopic applications have included fresh water, rocks, soils, sediments, plant and animal tissues, resin pellets, oil sands tailings, extraction chemistry, and bacterial-sediment interactions.  Recent laser ablation elemental and isotopic applications have included laser-matter interactions, standard reference materials validation, minerals, fluid and melt inclusions, tissues (e.g., otoliths, vertebra, fin rays), metal alloys, and experimental run products.  Key areas of research currently include:

  • Development and validation of analytical and data reduction approaches for the quantitative elemental and isotopic microanalysis of individual mineral, fluid, and melt inclusions 
  • Application of elemental and isotopic tracers to determining the key physicochemical parameters controlling mineral deposit formation and occurrence
  • Application of elemental and isotopic tracers to characterizing environmental quality and determining organismal life history of native and invasive species
  • Development, validation, and application of isotopic microanalytical procedures for analysis of problematic or poorly characterized media (e.g., sulphide minerals, metal alloys, biogenic tissues)


We are continually looking for new and interesting analytical challenges.  If you would like to access the EHIAL laboratories or are interested in conducting collaborative research, please contact one of the following:

Joel E. Gagnon, Ph.D., EHIAL Head
Telephone: (519) 253-3000 Ext. 2496
email: jgagnon@uwindsor.ca

J.C. Barrette, EHIAL Technician
Telephone: (519) 253.3000 Ext. 2719
email:  barretb@uwindsor.ca