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Secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) was used to characterize uranium and plutonium containing particles in soils, swipes and forensic samples. This was done by analysing spherical UO(2) particles produced in-house. Screening techniques such as alpha-autoradiography, together with SIMS analysis, were employed to detect UO(2) particles in soil samples from Chernobyl.

SIMS was used to identify uranium and plutonium containing particles and to determine their isotopic composition. The particles were collected on swipe samples and transferred to a special adhesive support for analysis by SIMS. Particles containing highly enriched uranium with diameters of up to 10 um were also detected in a forensic sample. For the measurements of the isotopic ratios a mass resolution of 1000 was used. At this resolution flat-top peaks were obtained which greatly improve the accuracy of the measurements. The isotopic composition of the particles was measured with a typical accuracy and precision of 0.5%. Statistically meaningful results can be obtained for instance, from a specimen containing as few as 1E6 atoms/um(3) of uranium in particles of UO(2) weighing a few picograms.

Additional information

Authors: TAMBORINI ET AL, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Transuranium Elements, Karlsruhe (DE)
Bibliographic Reference: Article: Mikrochimica Acta vol.132 pp 411-417
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