Department S3 at LIAG procured a laser diffractometer for high resolution particle size determination pursuant to ISO Norm 13320. This piece of equipment is primarily used to investigate the terrestrial climate archive, and is therefore incorporated in the previous research structure of the department. It can also be used for applications involving soil-physical, hydrogeological, engineering geological and material science disciplines, which opens up opportunities for interdisciplinary co-operation and networking within the institute and the Geocentre.
The device complies with the ISO 13320-1 standard created exclusively for laser granulometric measurements, and features the following aspects which make it suitable for geoscientific research:
1. The LS 13320 laser diffractometer from Beckman Coulter with a measurement range of 0.04 − 2000 µm with 132 detectors plus 36 channels for the fine grain spectrum, achieves far higher resolutions, not only compared to conventional grain size determination methods, but also in comparison to the laser diffractometers produced by other manufacturers.
2. The use of an autosampler which is directly connected to the measuring unit enables the computer-supported measurement of a large number of samples under the same conditions and with a higher degree of repeatability. A sample measurement consisting of 5 measurement plots takes approximately 10 minutes. When the technician has filled the autosampler, the measurements run completely automatically via previously activated SOPs (standard operating procedures) and SOMs (standard operating methods). Around 80 separate samples can be measured every day.
3. The software provided by Beckman Coulter also opens up numerous opportunities for the statistical evaluation of the data. This allows statistical evaluations to be undertaken directly using the supplied software, and then graphically visualised. Exporting the data into a standard program such as MS Excel or the laboratory's own LabData database is transparent and highly compatible − an indispensable aspect for effective and time-saving data evaluation during routine laboratory operations.