The Potsdam Ion Microprobe (SIMS) User Facility

GFZ - German Research Centre for Geosciences
last updated: July 19, 2023

About the Laboratory

The Potsdam Ion Microprobe (SIMS) User Facility

GFZ - German Research Centre for Geosciences
@ Section 3.1 Inorganic and Isotope Geochemistry
This Laboratory is part of:
  • Geochemistry Laboratories laboratory complex
  • GFZ Research Infrastructure: Modular Earth Science Infrastructure MESI
  • Networks: Geo.X


  • Tbd
Visit us on our website in DE / EN


The Helmholtz Zentrum Potsdam operates a fully equipped, large geometry SIMS instrument, which is supported by a comprehensive spectrum of peripheral instrumentation. The SIMS laboratory is an open user facility intended to support the needs of the global geochemical community. Scientists from Europe and beyond are invited to contact us to discuss possibilities for collaboration. We strive to provide top-quality analytical data in and as rapid and uncomplicated means as possible.
Ion microprobes, also known as secondary ion mass spectrometers (SIMS), use a finely focused ion beam to probe a selected sample domain. A small percentage of the material sputtered from the polished surface of the sample is ionized, and these ions are accelerated into a mass spectrometer where they are separated according to their mass-over-charge ratio.
An important characteristic of SIMS is its high sensitivity compared to other microbeam sampling techniques: The ability to count individual ions results in detection limits in the parts-per-billion range for many elements. Also the fact that ions derived from the sample are separated by their mass-over-charge ratio allows isotopic analyses to be performed on test portion masses that can be as small as 200 picograms.
Ion microprobes offer six modes of operation: Isotopic Analyses, Trace Element Analyses, Geochronology, Imaging, Depth Profiling, and Particle Search. The facility's core instrument is a Cameca 1280-HR mass spectrometer (s/n 23). More information on how to get access are given here.


  • IMP, Ion Microprobe

Analytical Methods

  • IMP

Laboratory Keywords

  • Depth Profiling
  • Geochronology
  • Imaging
  • Isotopic Analysis
  • Particle Search
  • Trace Element Analyses