The Alphachron™ is the first commercially available, automated, integrated and compact turnkey system designed for the extraction and measurement of gases from mineral samples. The Alphachron™ was developed by the CSIRO Division of Exploration and Mining (DEM), and Patterson Instruments, and is now manufactured and marketed by ASI. The Alphachron™, as a specialist mass spectrometry instrument for geochemists, fits well with ASI’s product range, expertise and customer base.
During the course of research on the 4D evolution of ore systems, the CSIRO DEM found the need to develop instrumentation for rapid and automated analysis of mineral samples, which became the Alphachron&trade. The Alphachron™ technology, based on an innovative helium extraction/measurement instrument, is being adopted by the market as a standard analytical platform allowing an accurate determination of the thermal history of the Earth’s crust.
Up to 25 mineral samples can be loaded into the laser chamber of the Alphachron™ and heated (approximately 1000°C for apatite, and approximately 1250°C for zircon) under vacuum for five minutes with a 980nm diode laser. The extracted gas samples are analysed to determine their 4He content. The gas extraction process is repeated to ensure all the gas has been removed from the sample and in order to provide each sample with a blank. Mineral standards are analysed in each group of samples. Parent mineral concentration is subsequently determined by ICP-MS analysis of the sample.