Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Physics of Isotopologues

Dr. Tobias Kluge


The research of Dr. Tobias Kluge has its major focus on the investigation of multiply-substituted isotopologues, the understanding of physical processes that lead to isotope fractionation, and the application of new proxies technique for paleoclimate reconstruction. Amongst others, carbonate clumped isotopes and noble gases in fluid inclusions are promising new techniques for the assessment of past climate variations that are applied in this research group.

The research group is part of the Heidelberg Graduate School of Fundamental Physics (HGSFP).

The research group is funded by the Excellence Initiative of DFG (German Research Foundation) and BMBF (German Ministry of Education and Research). The Excellence Intiative was intiated to foster world-class institutions and to promote cutting edge research.


  • Advances in the absorption spectroscopic analysis of CO2 clumped isotopes:

    Prototype system in consolidation phase and first publication

    A recent advance in mid-IR laser spectroscopic technologies provides us the necessary tools to access extremely low sub-permill variations of rare doubly-substituted CO2 isotopologues (e.g. 17O13C16O and 18O13C16O). The international collaboration of the research group with the laboratory for radiation and matter studies in astrophysics and atmospheres (LERMA-IPSL, CNRS / SU / PSL) in Paris has developed the first laser instrument to simultaneously measure the four most abundant molecules of CO2, containing carbon isotopes 12C or 13C and oxygen isotopes 16O or 18O at an uncertainty level of better than 0.05 per thousand. This type of analysis allows to determine the formation temperature of carbonates and has recently become a powerful tool in various scientific fields, such as paleoclimatology, geochemistry, and atmospheric sciences. So far, analyzes are done by highly specialized mass spectrometers, but the new method will allow faster and more direct analyses. This major instrumental and methodological advancement paves the way for a better and broader use of this technique.
    Publication in Nature Scientific Reports
    Press notice at Heidelberg University
    Press notice at CNRS

    A photo of the current instrument design is shown below.

  • Alexander von Humboldt fellow as new member of the research group

    Halua Pinto de Magalhães is a postdoctoral fellow who received his PhD in chemistry at the ETH Zurich and is now member of the research group as an independent Alexander von Humbold fellow. In his research he combines a theoretical knowledge of Chemistry and its methods with new frontiers given by the interdisciplinary research projects. For example, he studied isotopic fractionation of noble gases upon diffusion in water using ab initio Molecular Dynamics (AIMD) simulation techniques (at EAWAG). The topic of the current Alexander von Humboldt project is related to oxygen and clumped isotope fractionation during various isotope exchange reactions using electronic structure modeling, AIMD and path integral approaches for nuclear quantum effects.

    Further details can be found here:

    Dr. Halua Pinto de Magalhães

  • Group-related research in the media:

    Paleoclimate research

    1) The SWR journalist Friederike Kroitzsch joined the research team for a monitoring visit in a cave in the Odenwald region (close to the Eberstadt show cave near Buchen, Southern Germany). Members of the research team explain what the goals of speleothem-based studies in this region are and why it is relevant today: mp3 version (in German)
    The radio contribution has been broadcasted end of October 2017 in the SWR.

    The photo was taken by Florian Freundt

    2) Prof. Dr. Neumann presents on ongoing interdisciplinary, collaborative research on climatic extreme events using speleothems from the Frankonian Alb and historical documents from Nuremberg: Contribution Deutsches Klima Konsortium
    The article has been published online on the pages of the Deutsches Klima Konsortium. Partners are from Heidelberg University (Institute of Environmental Physics: Dr. T. Kluge, Historical seminar: Maxmillian Schuh, Gabriel Meyer) and Karlsruhe Institue of Technology (Institute of Applied Geosciences: Prof. Dr. Thomas Neumann, Dr. Elisabeth Eiche, Arno Hartmann, Philipp Holz). Involved is also Dr. Dana Riechelmann from Mainz University and Prof. Dr. Detlev Richter from Ruhr-University Bochum. Funding was provided 2016 by a HEiKA grant.

    3) Floods and other climatic extremes in the historical past. What can we learn from geological and historical archives and the related societal responses? a video summary
    The video has been prepared in the context of the Heidelberg Center of the Environment.

    4) Speleothems as paleoclimate archive - state of the art and new approaches: a review in Ruperto Carola

  • Installation of a new isotope ratio mass spectrometer (2016):

    Thermo Scientific MAT 253 Plus
    The new mass spectrometer of the team physics of environmental archives will be used for the high-precision analysis of clumped isotopes and standard stable isotopes of carbonates. Impressions from the installation in March 2016 (positioning of the magnet) and the setup in the laboratory are shown below.

    • Approval of research projects:

      HCE boost fund , "Untersuchung und Interpretation von hochaufgelösten Isotopenprofilen im interdisziplinären Kontext". In collaboration between Environmental Physics and Geosciences the feasibility of high-resolution isotope ratio analyses with an ion microprobe on the µm scale is evaluated. It may allow for establishing annually resolved paleoclimate records that can be used as environmental baseline and can be used to put societal developments into the context of natural changes.

      HEiKA project "Check Extrema", interdisciplinary research project on climatic extreme events investigated from Natural and Historical Sciences perspectives. Funded by the Heidelberg-Karlsruhe Research Partnership of Heidelberg University, and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT); Germany
      Further information: HEiKA web site.
      Short video on the project outline, background details and first insights.

      DFG project "Water isotopes in fluid inclusions of speleothems". Funded by the German Science Foundation DFG.
      Further information: DFG web site.

    • New publications

      Weise, A., Kluge, T., 2019. Isotope exchange rates in dissolved inorganic carbon between 40°C and 90°C. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.

      Prokhorov, I., Kluge, T., Janssen, C., 2019. Optical clumped isotope thermometry of carbon dioxide. Nature Scientific Reports.

      Petersen, S. V., et al. (including Kluge T.), 2019. Effects of improved 17O correction on inter-laboratory agreement in clumped isotope calibrations, estimates of mineral-specific offsets, and temperature dependence of acid digestion fractionation. Geoch. Geophys. Geosys., in press.

      Riechelmann, D.,Fohlmeister, J., Kluge, T., Jochum, K. P., Richter, D. K., Deininger, M., Friedrich, R., Frank, N., Scholz, D., 2019. Evaluating the potential of tree-ring methodology for cross-dating of three annually laminated stalagmites from Zoolithencave (SE Germany). Quaternary Geochronology, 52, 37-50 .

      T. Kluge, Schuh, M., 2018. Detektivarbeit-Extremen Klimaereignissen auf der Spur, Ruperto Carola 12(2018), 97-105.

      Boch, R., Wang, X., Kluge, T., Leis, A., Lin, K., Pluch, K., Mittermayer, F., Baldermann, A., Böttcher, M.E., Dietzel, M., 2018. Aragonite calcite veins of the ‘Erzberg’ iron ore deposit(Austria): Environmental implications from young fractures. Sedimentology.

      Kluge, T., John, C.M., Boch,R., Kele,S., 2018. Assessment of factors controlling clumped isotopes and δ18O values of hydrothermal vent calcites. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 19.

      Zhang, L., Wang, C., Wignall, P.B., T. Kluge, Wan, X, Wang, Q, Gao, Y., 2018. Deccan volcanism caused coupled pCO2 and terrestrial temperature rises, and pre-impact extinctions in northern China. Geology, 46, 271-274.

      Boch, R., Szanyi, J., Leis, A., Mindszenty, A., Deak, J., Kluge, T., Hippler, D., Demeny, A., and Dietzel, M., 2016. Geothermal carbonate scaling: forensic studies applying high-resolution geochemical methods. Proceedings of the European Geothermal Congress.
      ISBN: 978-2-9601946-0-9. S-GC.

    Current group members

    • Dr. Tobias Kluge, Research group leader

      Institute of Environmental Physics
      Im Neuenheimer Feld 229, Room 3.30
      Phone +49 (0)6221-54-6511

    • Halua Pinto de Magalhaes, Alexander von Humboldt Stipendiat
    • Ivan Prokhorov, Dr rer. nat, now at PTB Braunschweig
    • Therese Weißbach, PhD student
    • Tatjana Münster, MSc
    • Alina Straub, BSc student
    • Lukas Becker, BSc student

    Open positions

    Several research opportunities for master and bachelor students are currently available: Link



    For the full publication list see: Link
    Conference contributions

    Conference contributions

    Conference contributions of the research group are summarized here: Link




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