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Monitoring Trace Radionuclides by ICP Mass Spectrometry with Femtosecond Laser Ablation


This project will develop analytical methodology for the use of femtosecond laser ablation sampling and analysis techniques for the rapid screening of samples derived from detection of clandestine nuclear operations, and nuclear non-proliferation and safeguards activities.  A state-of-the-art femtosecond laser ablation system in conjunction with an inductively coupled plasma-multicollector-mass-spectrometer (fs LA-ICP-MC-MS) system will be used to rapidly and accurately screen environmental samples such as vegetation, soils, and swipes, to provide a prompt indicator for the presence of enriched uranium, plutonium, or other elements of interest.

The analytical capabilities that will result from this project will greatly improve the speed of such measurements (from hours to several minutes), while maintaining at least reasonable accuracy (agreement with true ratios +/- 3% or better) and precision (1% RSD or better), compared to the existing benchmark method based on thermal ionization MS.

These improvements in speed and reduction in cost will facilitate more extensive monitoring programs for trace radionuclides relevant to the observation of illicit nuclear activities.



United States Department of Energy NA22



Sam Houk


Phone: (515)-294-9462