Frank J Stadermann

1962 – 2010

Frank Stadermann received an undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Heidelberg for work on 40Ar-39Ar dating of lunar rocks from the Fra Mauro region. After a two-year research visit to Washington University in St. Louis, he obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Heidelberg in 1991 with a dissertation on SIMS isotopic and trace element measurements of interplanetary dust particles (IDPs), which included the discovery of widespread nitrogen isotopic variations in IDPs.

As a post-doc at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik in Heidelberg he studied micrometeoroid impacts on satellite surfaces (LDEF, EURECA, Hubble Space Telescope) to evaluate the relative contributions of cosmic particles and man-made debris in the low Earth orbit. He continued this line of research after transferring to Darmstadt University of Technology, where he was in charge of establishing a new SIMS laboratory for material science with an ims5f instrument. Other work at that time included particle analysis with electron microprobe and SIMS, development and application of 2-D and 3-D SIMS imaging techniques for material and space science applications, as well as teaching courses on analytical techniques and statistics.

He re-joined Washington University in 1996 to participate in development, fund-raising and eventual purchase of the very first NanoSIMS, a newly designed high resolution and high sensitivity type of ion microprobe. His work continued to focus on isotopic and trace element analyses of extraterrestrial material with SIMS and related software development for data acquisition and processing. Since the arrival of the NanoSIMS in late 2000, his work centered around the development and management of this new instrument. Research studies included H, B, C, N, O, Mg/Al, Si, S, and Ti isotopic studies in meteorites, IDPs, Antarctic micrometeorites, and presolar grains. He developed techniques for NanoSIMS measurements in TEM sections, which, for the first time allowed correlated mineralogical and isotopic studies on a sub-micrometer scale. This work led to the first direct isotopic measurement of 'presolar grains within presolar grains' (200 nm TiC crystals embedded in low-density supernova graphite spheres). He also discovered the first presolar corundum and SiC grains in IDPs. He investigated and demonstrated the suitability of Auger spectroscopy for elemental imaging and quantification of submicron-sized samples and obtained funding for a state-of-the-art PHI 700 Scanning Auger Nanoprobe, which was delivered and installed in August 2006. The combination of NanoSIMS and Auger Nanoprobe makes it possible to determine the elemental makeup of isotopically-identified presolar phases in situ, feature that is invaluable for the identification of presolar silicate grains, which cannot be separated by chemical processing.

Stadermann was a sample advisor for NASA's STARDUST mission, which brought back dust particles from comet Wild-2, and the analysis of cometary particles was an important focus of his research with the NanoSIMS and the Auger Nanoprobe. His analyses during the preliminary examination led to the discovery of a presolar grain among the returned cometary samples, proving that there is indeed stardust in STARDUST.

Frank Stadermann died unexpectedly on October 4, 2010 from an intra-cerebral hemorrhage. Read the obituary in the Washington University Record

Links to other pages on this web site:

  1. NanoSIMS home page
    Auger Nanoprobe home page

  2. Links to downloadable PDF files:

  3. Zinner E. (2010)
    Memorial, Frank J. Stadermann, 1962–2010.
    Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 45, 1527-1528.

Articles in the Washington University Record:

Frank Stadermann, scientist who studied chemistry of the cosmos, 48, Oct. 2010
'Real Stardust from NASA mission lands on campus, Jan. 2007
Washington University lab first to find 'real' stardust from Stardust mission, Dec. 2006
Scientists hope comet dust will give numerous insights, Mar. 2006
Researchers find carriers of astronomical extinction line in presolar grains, Apr. 2005
Carbon found to be older than the solar system, Apr. 2004
Presolar carbon found in interplanetary dust, Apr. 2004
Ion microprobe opens doors for possibilities, Mar. 2002
Microprobe coming to McDonnell Center, Oct. 1998