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  • A novel isotope analysis of oxygen in uranium oxides: comparison of secondary ion mass spectrometry, glow discharge mass spectrometry and thermal ionisation mass spectrometry


The natural variation of the oxygen isotopic composition is used among geologists to determine paleo-temperatures and the origin of minerals. In recent studies, oxygen isotopic composition has been recognized as a possible tool for identification of the origin of seized uranium oxides in nuclear forensic science. In the last 10 years, great effort has been made to develop new direct and accurate n({18}O)/n({16}O) measurements methods. Traditionally, n({18}O)/n({16}O) analyses are performed by gas mass spectrometry. In this work, a novel oxygen isotope analysis by thermal ionisation mass spectrometry (TIMS), using metal oxide ion species (UO{+}) is compared to the direct methods: glow discharge mass spectrometry (GDMS) and secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS). Because of the possible application of the n({18}O)/n({16}O) ratio in nuclear forensic science, the samples were solid, pure UO(2) or U(3)O(8) particles. The precision achieved using TIMS analysis was 0.04%, which is similar or even better than the one obtained using SIMS technique (0.05%), and clearly better if compared to that of GDMS (0.5%). The samples used by TIMS are microgram in size. The suitability of TIMS as a n({18}O)/n({16}O) measurement method is verified by SIMS measurements. In addition, TIMS results have been confirmed by characterizing the n({18}O)/n({16}O) ratio of UO(2) sample also by the traditional method of static vacuum mass spectrometry at the University of Chicago.

Additional information

Authors: PAJO L, University of Helsinki, Department of Chemistry, Laboratory of Radiochemistry, Helsinki (FI);TAMBORINI G ET AL, JRC, Institute for Transuranium Elements, Karlsruhe (DE)
Bibliographic Reference: An article published in: Spectrochimica Acta Part B 56 (2001), pp.541-549
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