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Smithsonian Microbeam Standards FAQs


Questions

Answers

How much do the reference materials cost?

The reference materials are free of cost. We ask that in return, you acknowledge the use of the materials in any publication and that you let us know when and where the publication appeared.

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What reference materials are available and how do I make the request?

The available materials can be found on the Standard Availability and Request Form. Simply check the materials you need and save the spreadsheet with your name and email it to Tim Rose and Cathleen Brown.

Download: Standard Availability and Request Form (.xlsx)

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How much material am I getting? What size are the grains?

Generally you will receive a pill capsule containing from many tiny grains to a few larger ones. The data sheets for each material show the sizes of the grains that we have. Unless otherwise requested, the grains are selected from the size fraction we have the most of. On request we can specially select from the larger size fractions.

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When will the materials arrive at my lab?

Within the United States you can typically expect the materials within several weeks. Internationally we have had folks experience long delays of many weeks as the package gets stalled going through customs. You will be notified when the package leaves the Smithsonian.

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Why can't I have a personal set of SMS?

The SMS are distributed to laboratories, not individuals. The intention is that the reference mount stays at the lab. There are very limited quantities of these materials. If there is a material you need when you move to another lab, just send us a request explaining your situation.

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Do I need to return any of the materials in the future?

No. These materials are transferred to your lab permanently. Just sign and return the paperwork you receive in your package.

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Can you mount them for me or how do I mount them?

We do not have the resources to mount SMS for other labs, but have created a set of detailed instructions on our preferred mounting method.

Download: How to make a standard mount (.pdf)

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How do I get the grains out of the capsule?

Usually it is a good idea to tap the capsule a few times before opening it to release the grains that sometimes get stuck to the capsule wall. After that, you can remove the lid and the grains will usually slide down the side of the tilted capsule with a little tapping.

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What if I don't see any grains in the capsule?

A few of the materials are very tiny grains that may not be obvious on first glance. Tap the capsule a few times, remove the lid and look into the capsule with a binocular microscope.

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How can I find out the composition of the SMS?

Each reference material has a data sheet that contains the published composition as well as revised compositions, detailed information about the material and references.

Website: SMS data sheets

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Are the SMS grains large enough to be appropriate for LA-ICP-MS and SIMS?

Generally the answer is no, particularly for the original minerals and glasses. They were developed for essentially non-destructive methods and exist mostly as tiny grains. However, we have sufficient quantities and large grains of the following:

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How do I reference the SMS in publications?

We ask that you acknowledge the use of the SMS in any publication. Please use the catalog number for the reference material and that it was provided by the Department of Mineral Sciences of the Smithsonian Institution. Most catalog numbers are prefaced with NMNH however two, Springwater Olivine (USNM 2566) and tektite glass (USNM 2213) are not.

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If I find something new about the standards, who do I contact?

We are constantly adding new and revising existing information about the reference materials and adding it to their respective data sheets. Anecdotal or published data or observations are welcome. Please submit any information to Tim Rose.

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What if I don't get a response to a request?

If you do not hear back from us within one week of your request, please don't hesitate to email again.

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I accidentally ground off one (or more) of the materials during the preparation of the mount. Can I ask for more?

We understand that this can and does happen. We will send you one additional replacement. Be sure to consult the instructions for mounting the materials.

Download: How to make a standard mount (.pdf)

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