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National Security Directorate

Radiochemical Analysis Group

The Radiochemical Analysis Group conducts fundamental and applied research resulting in new capabilities in trace element and radionuclide detection, environmental assessment and remediation, treaty verification, and proliferation detection and prevention. The group applies a broad range of instrument and method development knowledge, specialized chemical separation methods, and advanced radiometric and spectrometric technologies in support of national security clients. Staff are typically involved in multiple projects which enables each person to contribute to basic science studies as well as the applied missions of the Group. Staff use highly developed processes, specialized methods, and state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation to perform work that spans the spectrum of basic science to applied analytical services. Research areas include: radiochemistry, nuclear materials chemistry and analysis, instrument development, safeguards, fate and transport, and nuclear signatures. Much of the analytical services work that is performed requires measuring radionuclides at trace levels.

Spectrum of Scientific Capability

  • Basic research leading to innovative separations and method development
  • Design and fabrication of purpose-built mass spectrometers, leading the world in the development of novel detector arrays for isotopic mass spectrometry
  • Basic science issues underpinning instrumental methods (plasma physics analysis of ion beam formation and transport in mass spectrometry; emission of secondary particles from high energy bombardment of surfaces in SIMS experiments and ion detectors)
  • Development of new/novel separation resins/materials for the analysis of highly radioactive materials and very complex sample matrices
  • Development of advanced analytical protocols for the simultaneous quantification of up to 40 elements by ICP-OES
  • Improved analytical efficiency and data turnaround
  • Production of mixed fission products (MFP) from variety of fuels and neutron spectra and mixed activation products (MAP) from thermal and 14 MeV neutrons
  • Characterization of fundamental thermodynamic or kinetic aspects of separation systems
  • Isotope production for national security R&D purposes using a variety of irradiation methods and interactions including the production of short-lived and/or non-commercially available radionuclides
  • Analytical services that provide state-of-the-art results to the United States government

Examples of Facilities & Instrumentation

  • HEPA-filtered, perchloric acid compatible fume hoods suitable for processing radioactive materials
  • Separate wet chemistry laboratories operated to handle materials ranging in radiation dose and activity
  • Scanning and electron microscopy laboratory suite including electron microprobe
  • Clean room chemistry laboratories
  • Radiometric counting: alpha, beta, gamma detection systems
  • High performance Multi-Collector Inductively Coupled Mass Spectrometry for high precision isotope ratio measurements
  • Cameca 1280 Large Geometry Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer
  • World class Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry combined with clean room chemistry and sample preparation
  • Femtosecond Laser Ablation coupled with "nuclear detector" array equipped Multi-Collector ICPMS
  • Low-Scatter D-T Neutron Generator

RA Group

For more information, contact at (509) 372-4234.

Signatures Science and Technology

National Security Directorate

Technical Capabilities