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Precise and accurate isotopic analysis of microscopic uranium-oxide grains using LA-MC-ICP-MS

By Nicholas S. Lloyd, Randall R. Parrish, Matthew S.A. Horstwood and Simon R.N. Chenery

Abstract

Uranium isotope (235U, 236U, 238U) ratios were determined for microscopic uranium-oxide grains using laser-ablation multi-collector inductively-coupled-plasma mass-spectrometry (LA-MC-ICP-MS). The grains were retrieved from contaminated soil and dust samples. The analytical technique utilised is rapid, requires minimal sample preparation, and is well suited for nuclear forensic applications. Precision and accuracy were assessed by replicate analyses of natural uraninite grains: relative uncertainty for 235U/238U is 0.2 % (2σ), and the mean is in agreement with the natural ratio. A total of 115 uranium-oxide grains were analysed from environmental samples (soils and dusts); all of these were depleted uranium (DU) from a factory that produced uranium articles. Knowledge of the range of isotope ratios from particles of this controversial contaminant has proven useful when interpreting isotope ratios from bulk samples. Variation of the measured isotope signatures reveals details of the history of uranium processing and emissions

Topics: Ecology and Environment
Publisher: Royal Society of Chemistry
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1039/B819373H
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:7990

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