Determination of actinides using ICP-SFMS

by Nygren, Ulrika, PhD

Abstract (Summary)
Interest in the determination of the actinides using ICP-MS has steadily increased with the development of systems capable of more sensitive and precise measurements. However, the analysis of less abundant actinides such as Pu and Am is not straightforward due to the need for chemical separation of these elements prior to determination. In many applications of mass- spectrometric actinide analysis, isotope ratio measurements are important, either for the analysis of the isotopic composition of, e.g., U or Pu in the sample, or for quantitative determinations using isotope dilution mass spectrometry. In order to achieve high precision and accuracy in an isotope ratio measurement, corrections for instrumentally induced systematic errors, e.g., due to dead-time and mass bias, need to be considered. In this thesis, different aspects of actinide analysis using ICP-SFMS have been addressed. In Papers I and III, separation procedures based on solid phase extraction for Pu, Am and U were developed and evaluated with respect to chemical yield and separation from elements causing spectral interferences. Applications of the analytical procedures developed comprised measurement of the 240Pu/239Pu ratio in environmental reference materials (Paper I), and age determination of Pu based on the 241Pu/241Am and 240Pu/236U ratios (Paper III). In the application of different separation procedures for Pu (Paper I), previously unidentified spectral interferences were discovered. In Paper II, these interferences were identified as lanthanide phosphate ions and the composition and formation of these species with respect to different instrumental parameters were further examined. Due to the importance of precise and accurate isotope ratio determination, a thorough investigation of the instrumental dead time of an ICP-SFMS system was performed. The dead time was evaluated via both isotope ratio and electronic measurements of the output from the detector amplifier. It was found that the overall uncertainty in ratio measurements can be significantly reduced by using an electronically determined dead time due to the inherently higher precision compared to traditional isotope ratio based approaches. However, this requires that an correct artificial dead-time is implemented in the pulse counting system (Paper IV).
Bibliographical Information:


School:Luleå tekniska universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation



Date of Publication:01/01/2006

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