The use of lead isotopic abundances in trace uranium samples for nuclear forensics analysis

  • A. J. Fahey
  • N. W. M. Ritchie
  • D. E. Newbury
  • J. A. Small


Secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), secondary electron microscopy (SEM) and X-ray analysis have been applied to the measurement of U-bearing particles with the intent of gleaning information concerning their history and/or origin. The lead isotopic abundances are definitive indicators that U-bearing particles have come from an ore-body, even if they have undergone chemical processing. SEM images and X-ray analysis can add further information to the study that may allude to the extent of chemical processing. The presence of “common” lead that does not exhibit a radiogenic signature is clear evidence of anthropogenic origin.


Uranium Nuclear forensics Uranium isotopes 



Thanks to Eric Windsor for assistance in preparing the TMU sample.


Certain commercial equipment, instruments, or materials are identified in this paper to foster understanding. Such identification does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, nor does it imply that the materials or equipment identified are necessarily the best available for the purpose.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. J. Fahey
    • 1
  • N. W. M. Ritchie
    • 1
  • D. E. Newbury
    • 1
  • J. A. Small
    • 1
  1. 1.Surface and Microanalysis Science Division, Chemical Science and Technology LaboratoryNational Institute of Standards and TechnologyGaithersburgUSA

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