CRIS -Creative Research Institution- Hokkaido University

Isotope Microscope system/Isotope Imaging Laboratory (IIL)

Title of the Research Project:

“Industrial Innovation Through Stable-isotope Imaging Technology”


Established at:

Isotope Imaging Laboratory, Strategic Project Research Division, Research Department, Creative Research Institution Sousei (CRIS), Hokkaido University


Project Duration:

Oct 2007 –


Funded by:

  1. MEXT Special Coordination Fund (2007-2008) for Creating Innovation by Sharing Advanced Research Facilities for “Strategic Industrial Use”,
  2. MEXT Subsidy (2009 – ) for Sharing Advanced Research Facilities Promotion Business


Main objectives:

  1. Fosters innovation by sharing advanced research facilities for strategic industrial use
  2. Solves problems put forth by industry and thereby promotes and sustains strategic, interdisciplinary, and cross-disciplinary research


Research activities:

This laboratory promotes research using an isotope microscope system (IMS) with unique characteristics for the 3D visualization of microscopic regions of materials through high-precision imaging of elemental isotopes. Use of the IMS, mainly for mineralogical observations, has led to several important findings in the earth, planetary, and space sciences, including the discovery of presolar (i.e, older than the solar system) materials in meteorites, substantiation of origins from the solar system, and the composition of the earth’s deep interior. Besides applications in age determination, the IMS allows visualization through observations of stable isotope probes at ultra-high sensitivity, and through high-resolution elemental imaging. Due to changes in measuring techniques, it is now possible to use the IMS in industrial applications.

IIL is being increasingly used by the semiconductor, biotechnology, and other industries. A section in charge of expansion of industrial use at CRIS offers support (e.g., consultation, preparation of samples and subsequent measurements, and data evaluation) to corporate users, as necessary.

Schematic diagram of the Isotope Microscope System

View of the Isotope Microscope System

Fine particle (see arrow) from red giant star visualized by IMS