Title: The Use of SIMS and SEM for the Characterization of Individual Particles with a Matrix Originating from a Nuclear Weapon
Citation: MICROSCOPY AND MICROANALYSIS vol. 13 no. 3 p. 179-190
Publication Year: 2007
JRC N°: JRC38183
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC38183
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: The application of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) for characterization of mixed plutonium and uranium particles from nuclear weapons material is presented. The particles originated from the so-called Thule accident in Greenland in 1968. Morphological properties have been studied by SEM and two groups were identified: a popcorn structure and a spongy structure. The same technique, coupled with an energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX) spectrometer, showed a heterogeneous composition of Pu and U in the surface layers of the particles. The SIMS depth profiles revealed a varying isotopic composition indicating a heterogeneous mixture of Pu and U in the original nuclear weapons material itself. The depth distributions agree with synchrotronradiation-based [mu]-XRF (X-ray fluorescence microprobe) measurements on the particle (Eriksson, M., Wegryzynek, D., Simon, R., & Chinea-Cano, E., in prep.) when a SIMS relative sensitivity factor for Pu to U of 6 is assumed. Different SIMS identified isotopic ratio groups are presented, and the influence of interferences in the Pu and U mass range are estimated. The study found that the materials are a mixture of highly enriched 235U (235U:238U ratio from 0.96 to 1.4) and so-called weapons grade Pu (240Pu:239Pu ratio from 0.028 to 0.059) and confirms earlier work reported in the literature.
JRC Directorate:Nuclear Safety and Security

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