About us

Scientific themes in the Laboratory for Biological Geochemistry are situated at the junction between isotope geochemistry and biology.

We investigate biological processes at the sub-cellular level using cutting-edge micro-analytical tools. To this end, we use a suite of isotopic labeling techniques in combination with micro- to nano-scale analytical instruments, primarily:

  • Transmission electron microscopy (TEM)
  • Secondary electron microscopy (SEM)
  • Ion microprobe Secondary Ion Mass spectroscopy (SIMS).

The analytical centerpiece of the LBG is a state-of-the-art NanoSIMS 50L ion microprobe. This instrument enables isotopic and elemental imaging with a spatial resolution better than 100 nanometers on a wide range of materials from biological samples, over minerals, to advanced applied materials. Among the diverse range of projects in our laboratory, we use this technology to study metabolic interaction between corals and their symbiotic partners such as microalgae and bacteria. Thereby, we aim to understand the molecular causes of the ecological collapse of coral reefs in times of climate change. 

The Laboratory for Biological Geochemistry is also closely associated with the Institute of Earth Sciences at the nearby University of Lausanne. Here, the NanoSIMS instrument is part of the Center for Advanced Surface Analysis (CASA).

This UNIL-EPFL analytical collaboration also includes the 1280 ims HR SWISS-SIMS ion microprobe, specialized in high precision isotopic and trace element analyses of minerals and two Laser-Ablation ICPMS instruments.