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Hinrichs Lab - Analytical infrastructure

HLab Labs
The analytical infrastructure in the Hinrichs Lab bases on excellent laboratory facillities and a wide variety of technical equipment. The analysis of diverse compound groups (gases, liquids, solids) and classes (bulk organic matter, biomarkers ranging from n-alkanes to fatty acids, sugars, volatile fatty acids, intact polar lipids) requires dedicated procedures for sample preparation and clean-up, and most importantly state-of-the-art instrumentation for detecting and identifying these molecules.

Gas chromatography (GC)

Gas chromatographs enable the separation of organic molecules, ranging from small gaseous molecules up to compounds containing a much higher number of carbon atoms such as archaeal biomarkers (e.g. archaeol) or bacteriohopanepolyols (e.g. bacteriohopanetriol).


Gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC-MS)

GC-MS offers the identification of molecular structures of target compounds. Additionally equipped with FIDs, the simultaneous determination of concentration is possible. The high pressure pyrolysis GC-MS system enables the analysis of volatiles as well as macromolecular materials on the basis of their thermal compositional fingerprints.


Liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (LC-MS)

LC-MS is used for the identification of polar, high molecular weight organic compounds and enables semi-quantitative determination of concentrations. In the Hinrichs Lab, LC-MS techniques are mainly employed for the characterization of intact polar lipids and core lipids. These lipids can provide insight to key biogeochemical processes and associated microbial communities of the present and the past.


Isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS)

Molecular isotope techniques in the Hinrichs Lab are used to determine the stable isotopic compositions of H, C and N in organic materials. Analyses cover measurements of single organic compounds after chromatographic separation via GC or LC (gases, biomarkers, lipids, volatile fatty acids) and stable carbon isotopic determinations of bulk sedimentary material and cell biomass.


Isotope ratio infrared spectrometry (IRIS)

Infrared spectrometry is applied to determine the stable carbon isotopic composition of carbon dioxide in gas samples. The equipment in our lab can be used for the direct measurement of gas samples and also enables the analysis of DIC in water samples.

Thermo Scientific Delta Ray IRIS with URI connect


Geobiomolecular Imaging Laboratory

High resolution scanning techniques are used for the spatially resolved analysis of sediments and other surfaces on the µm-scale, and enable biomarker and elemental imaging. The molecular distribution of lipid biomarkers is obtained by laser desorption ionization (LDI) coupled to ultra high resolution mass spectrometry (FTMS). Elemental distributions are mapped via micro-XRF spectrometry (µ-XRF).


Geomicrobiology Laboratory

For the investigation of biogeochemical processes, we incubate microbes in the laboratory. In order to mimic conditions in the deep sea, it is crucial to provide the microorganisms with suitable atmosphere, temperature and pressure conditions.


Fluorescence Spectrometry

Excitation-emission-matrix spectra (EEMs or 3-D fluorescence spectra) can be used as non-destructive basic means to differentiate compound groups of dissolved organic matter (DOM) without determination of the exact molecular composition. Three humic-like peaks and one protein like peak can be interpreted with respect to origin, transformation and bioavailabilty of DOM.

Agilent Cary Eclipse Fluorescence Spectrophotometer


Sample preparation

In order to analyze organic molecules from environmental samples they first have to be freeze-dried and/or cryo-milled and second extracted with organic solvents. Extractions in our labs are physically supported by ultrasonication or heat.


Radioisotope Laboratory

We are using radioanalytical techniques to determine microbial activity, turnover rates and metabolic pathways. Pure cultures and sediments are incubated with radiolabeled substrates and transformation or incorporation of the radiolabel is investigated. Hydrogenase enzyme activity is measured by Liquid Scintillation. Lipid components are measured by HPLC coupled in parallel to MS detection and Flow Through Scintillation.

Perkin Elmer Tri-Carb 2810TR Liquid Scintillation Analyzer

Bruker AmaZonSpeed ESI Ion Trap MS

Ramona Quattro Flow Through Scintillation Analyzer