Matt Kilburn

Professor, BSc Lond., PhD Brist.

  • The University of Western Australia (M004), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Professor Matt Kilburn obtained his BSc in Planetary Science from University College London, and then completed a PhD in Experimental Petrology at the University of Bristol. He held postdoctoral positions at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the University of Bristol, before joining the University of Oxford as a Research Fellow in 2003. In 2006, Matt joined UWA as a lecturer at CMCA, and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2010, and to Associate Professor in 2013. In 2016 he became Deputy Director of CMCA, and has been Director since 2018.

Roles and responsibilities

Director, CMCA
Head, Ion Probe Facility
SIMS Technique Group Leader

Teaching overview

GEOS5507 - Unit Coordinator


Prof Kilburn is an expert in Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS), and is head of UWA’s Ion Probe Facility. The facility houses a CAMECA IMS1280 large-geometry ion probe, for the in-situ measurement of isotopes in minerals, and two CAMECA NanoSIMS instruments for imaging mass spectrometry. Prof Kilburn’s research focuses on the application of SIMS to a range of disciplines, from geochemistry to biomedical research.
The NanoSIMS instruments are imaging mass spectrometers, providing elemental and isotopic maps of samples with ultra-high spatial resolution (50-100nm) and high sensitivity. They are routinely used in stable isotopes probing (SIP) experiments, in which a rare stable isotope (eg, 13C, 15N) is added to an experimental system to visualise biological processes or chemical reactions at interfaces (eg diffusion).
The IMS1280 is a state-of-the-art ion probe for the measurement of high-precision isotope ratios in minerals and materials. In particular, oxygen isotopes in zircons and other refractory minerals, and sulphur isotopes in sulphide minerals.
Prof Kilburn also undertakes U isotopic analyses of environmental samples for nuclear safeguards. The IMS1280 laboratory is part of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Network of Analytical Laboratories.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Research expertise keywords

  • Development of NanoSIMS technique in the fields of biology and medicine, material science and earth science
  • Fundamentals of isotopic analyses with SIMS
  • Stable isotope analysis at micron-scale using Cameca NanoSIMS and IMS 1280
  • Early life, stromatolites and astrobiology
  • Planetary science, planetary formation and meteorites


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