Blog Date 29 March, 2023

Overview of forensic isotope analysis and applications

Overview of forensic isotope analysis and applications

Modern usage of isotope analysis in forensics integrates a vast spectrum of profiles and technology to determine accurate results. The landscape of ‘isoscapes’ include tissues from the human body for carbon and nitrogen analysis. Samples come from muscle tissue, teeth, hair, nails and bare bones for investigation purposes. A wealth of data is collected, examined and put under the microscope for creating evidence.

SimSon Pharma conducts strict protocols with bulk stable isotope analysis. We are in this business for long to give an overview of the workings in our labs. Powerful geolocation tool provides enhanced leads for tracing unidentified human remains. Medico legal authorities approach us for DNA profiles and fingerprint evaluations.

 Key Takeaways 

  • Preparation of samples for bulk stable isotope analysis
  • Safety protocols
  • Materials for testing
  • Reagents values
  • Packing isotopes
  • Submissions to clients

The basic principles, show all isotopes (of a chemical element) share same number of protons. They appear at the same position in the table. The difference lies in the mass as neutron number changes. Various chemicals represent a mix of different isotopes. Stable isotopes have abundance of bio-element which include –Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen and sulphur.

Samples taken for forensic isotope analysis or any other applications are freeze-dried into a homogenous powder and packed in isotope tins. Weighing is done as per Isolab machines standards and checking for limitations. Adjustments are done in case the samples will be sent to another lab for testing. 

In SimSon labs, technical team wears all necessary safety equipment while dealing with toxic chemicals like chloroform, acetone and methanol. For instance, long time exposure of chloroform directly affects the respiratory system. Dizziness and shortness of breath are a result of working with acetone and methanol. To add to these dangers, they are flammable and need careful handling in the lab’s controlled environment. We have all SoPs in working order to manage sampling for forensic isotope analysis.

When the sample arrives they are cleaned of any debris which affect testing procedures.

 The practice is done via: 

ü Cleaning the shells, bones, and dirt.

ü Freeze dry or oven drying (FSH 333)

ü Grinding into powder with mortar/pestle, ball and mill grinder.

ü Scissors in some cases

When it comes to bulk stable isotope analysis proper packaging matters. Our experts use microbalance in the lab. Proper calibration is done prior to the sample weighing.

 All clean vials, stoppers, forceps are kept ready for Weighing Purpose. Silver tins are used for hydrogen bulk isotopes under inert atmosphere. Microbalance works in a closed environment to remove any objectionable impurities, which contaminates sample.

 Only desired weight of samples is taken under inert atmosphere. If any powder falls on the microbalance it is removed by vacuum or suction process. Record or results are obtained in a placement tray.


 At the SimSon Pharma labs we label the material correctly before submitting tested samples. Hard copies of the result are sent via email or posted online for the client. Do these protocols place your trust in our abilities to serve you better?

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