We are an active grouping of almost 20 members, including academics, researchers and postgraduate research students, based in the School of Physical Sciences. We use a variety of cutting-edge laboratory instrumentation to investigate the geochemical and isotopic signatures of the dust and organic material present at the birth of the Solar System (now contained in extraterrestrial samples of cometary, asteroidal and interplanetary dust) and how this material evolved during the early stages of planetary accretion and differentiation.
Our facilities include unique (e.g. high sensitivity C, N, noble gas mass spectrometer system) and world-leading (e.g. oxygen 3-isotope laser fluorination system; NanoSIMS 50L) instruments as well as many more routine instruments (e.g. Raman, analytical SEM) that permit detailed investigation of such complex materials. A major focus is on investigating the origin and distribution of the astrobiologically important light volatile elements (e.g., H, C, N, O).
Most of our research is carried out in collaboration with planetary scientists, each of whom has an international reputation and is actively involved in a wide range of planetary missions such that the results from our projects contribute towards, and benefit from, recent (e.g. Stardust, Hayabusa), on-going (e.g. Rosetta) and future (e.g. OSIRIS-REx) missions.
Potential research projects
- Isotope reservoirs in the early solar system
- Origin of organic matter in primitive materials
- Preparation for returned samples (lunar, asteroidal)
- The role of volatiles in the protoplanetary disc
Projects mainly involve detailed laboratory investigations of extraterrestrial samples using the latest generation of analytical instruments such as mass spectrometers, FIB-SEM, EPMA, Raman, NanoSIMS. Each project provides a good balance between application of existing analytical methods and development of new and innovative analytical protocols ensuring international leadership in the field of planetary geochemistry.
Specific project details to be offered will be listed on our website.
If you have an enquiry specific to this research area please contact:
- Administrative support
- +44 (0)1908 659721
For general enquiries please contact the Research Degrees Team via the link
under 'Your Questions' on the right of the page.