General Lab Information

Facilities and Infrastructure

Chemical Analysis Technology Lab

From nuclear and particle physics experiments to fundamental chemistry research, determining the chemical components and concentrations of materials is necessary in a variety of fields. The Chemical Analysis Technology Laboratory within Brookhaven’s Energy and Photon Sciences (EPS) Directorate Chemistry Division is equipped with a suite of state-of-the-art analytical chemistry instruments with high sensitivity for characterizing materials and determining scintillator response parameters for the design, construction, and optimization of physics detectors. Our capabilities extend from in-house production to larger-scale experimental deployment.

Our Capabilities

  • Analyses of high-Z metals with an x-ray fluorescence spectrometer and low-Z metals with an atomic absorption spectrometer
  • Detection of optical transmission by an ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) spectrometer and long-arm dual-beam vertical-attenuation-length system
  • Identification of chemical functional groups and trace impurities in liquids via a Fourier-transform infrared spectrometer and liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry system
  • Generation of emission spectra and 90° scattering angle intensities of scintillation liquids in the wavelength region of 250 to 600 nm via a spectrofluorometer
  • Determination of the photon yield efficiency of aromatic solvents by a scintillator coincidence counter
  • Measurement of low-background radioactivity counts with a Compton-suppression high-purity germanium (HPGe) detector and alpha vacuum chambers
  • Assessment of material compatibility through thermal chambers, pH titrators, and ultrasonicators
  • Identification of chemical components and their impact on operations for underground facilities
  • Application of mid-scale (50–90 L) chemical reaction tanks for prototyping
  • Extraction of solvents (30 L/hr) with a benchtop and pilot-scale pressurized column exchange system
  • Examination of the purification feasibility for polar and nonpolar solvents (40 L/hr) in film vacuum distillation systems at pilot and benchtop scale
  • Purification and synthesis of organic solvents (1000 L/batch) with a ton-scale sequential liquid-mixing system
photo of short-path vacuum distillation system

Short-path vacuum distillation systems manufactured by VTA. In short-path distillation, a liquid only has to travel a short distance, reducing loss of materials adhering to the equipment surfaces. These systems are ideal for separating compounds unstable at high temperatures or purifying small amounts of a compound.

photo of spectrofluorometer

PTI QuantaMaster 8000 spectrofluorometer for photoluminescence measurements. High-quality optics suppress stray light so that the true fluorescence signal can be detected. Applications include steady-state intensity measurements, time-based experiments, synchronous scans, and polarization scans.

photo of liquid chromatography and mass spectroscopy system

PerkinElmer Flexar ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography (LC) and mass spectroscopy (MS) system. Combining the ability of LC to separate components and of MS to detect molecular structures provides a powerful way to verify, quantify, and characterize compounds across many industries, including pharmaceuticals, environmental testing, and cosmetics.

photo of infrared spectrophotometer

Shimadzu Corporation IRPrestige-21, the first Fourier-transform infrared spectrophotometer with a mid-near-far infrared measurement range. The instrument has a signal-to-noise ratio of 40,000:1 or better, enabling high-sensitivity analysis of samples for a variety of applications, including organic chemistry, polymer science, and electronics.

photo of x-ray fluorescence spectrometer

Thermo Scientific ARL QUANT’X energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) spectrometer. The instrument quantifies major, minor, and trace elements across diverse sample types, including bulk solids, granules, powders, thin films, and liquids. Environmental monitoring, chemicals, mining, forensics, food, cement, metals, and other industries can benefit from this elemental analysis.

photo of ultraviolet-visible spectrophotometer

Shimadzu UV-1800 ultraviolet-visible (UV-VIS) spectrophotometer. The compact instrument has a wavelength resolution of one nanometer and can operate in several measurement modes to determine the concentration of different chemical substances such as biological molecules and transition-metal compounds.

Case Studies

LZ Dark Matter Experiment

LZ tank rendering

The LZ Outer Detector will be filled with gadolinium-doped liquid scintillator. This scintillator fluid will surround LZ’s liquid xenon tank and help scientists veto the background "noise" of unwanted particle signals.

We verified the radioisotopic limit of uranium or thorium in a gadolinium-doped liquid scintillator (LS) to less than a few parts per trillion for the LZ Dark Matter Experiment. The LS serves the veto system to improve detector sensitivity to faint interactions between galactic dark matter (an invisible form of matter thought to make up most of the universe) and ordinary visible matter.

LS for Neutrino Experiments

photo of PROSPECT collaborators

PROSPECT collaborators assemble a prototype scintillation detector.

By assessing the attenuation length (absorption and scattering), light yield, and stability of selected materials, we designed LS for the Daya Bay and PROSPECT neutrino experiments and LZ Dark Matter Experiment. Our capabilities allow for independent measurement of these three key parameters.

LS Detection Medium

photo of liquid scintillators

Samples of a pure liquid scintillator (LS), water with 10% LS, and water with 1% LS under ultraviolet light.

We invented a cost-effective water-based LS detection medium operating at several-kiloton scale for nonproliferation applications and neutrino research. With this medium, we can detect particle events below the Cherenkov threshold by scintillation.